Snowmobile Revolution, Market Restoration, and Ecological Sustainability of Reindeer Herding: Changing Patterns of Micro- vs. Macromobility among Komi Reindeer Herders of Bol´shezemel´skaia Tundra
- Region: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia
- Slavica Publishers
- Volume 6, Number 2, 2017
- pp. 225-250
- Additional Information
Like all other groups living in Russia, nomadic reindeer herders of the Russian north had to adapt to the tremendous social changes of the 1990s. This paper draws on data from extensive fieldwork among the Izhma Komi reindeer herders of the northeasternmost part of European Russia to analyze the changes in their economy and way of life that occurred in the last decade of the former and the first decade of the current century. Izhma Komi reindeer herders have more or less successfully re-established the market-oriented reindeer herding they had in the late 19th–early 20th centuries. However, this changed their pattern of winter mobility: their macromobility decreased (seasonal sedentarism), while their micromobility increased considerably. The latter has been made possible by the introduction of snowmobiles as a new herding tool. Despite being necessary for the development of market-oriented reindeer herding, this change of mobility rendered Komi reindeer herding less sustainable from the ecological point of view.