Co-evolution of human-reindeer communities in the Russian Arctic

Konstantin Klokov

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


The analysis of statistic data revealed that changes in demographic characteristics of the indigenous communities in Siberia were related with regional reindeer livestock number trends. The Polar Census data (1926/27) make it possible to detect 3 main models of Human-Reindeer co-existence in Western Central and Eastern parts of the Russian Arctic. In 1930-1980 the reindeer husbandry developed steadily in all regions but in the 1990ies its position in Eastern part of Arctic worsened and in Western Siberia on the contrary improved. The changes in demography and wellbeing of indigenous communities were similar. The reasons of this correlation depended on many factors and conditions including the ecological type of reindeer husbandry ethnic traditions and regional politics. A methodology of contextualization has been used to examine the co-evolution of Human-Reindeer communities in different Arctic regions. For example in the demographic context the number of nomadic Nenets population was directly correlated with the reindeer livestock amount. As the nomads had a higher level of birthrate than villagers reindeer herding development resulted in the Nenets total population increase in several districts. Besides reindeer livestock growth added to herders’ social standard rise as from the Nenets’ standpoint “being wealthy” means having a lot of reindeer. In many Arctic areas reindeer herding evolution was directed by political contexts simultaneously influencing demography and well-being of indigenous communities. In these districts trends of indigenous population (between Population Census 1989 2002 and 2010) were determined by ethnic self-identification change not by the balance between birth and mortality rates. However the reindeer husbandry has been perceived there as an important aspect of ethnic self-identification. Recent reindeer livestock reduction in some regions was relevant in the economic context but at the same time the role of traditional reindeer husbandry in cultural and political contexts was increasing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
EventUArctic Congress 2016 - St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
Duration: 12 Sept 201616 Sept 2016


ConferenceUArctic Congress 2016
Country/TerritoryRussian Federation
CitySt. Petersburg


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