Reassembling the Environmental Archives of the Cold War: Perspectives from the Russian North

Dmitry Arzyutov* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook


To what extent the environmental history of the Arctic can move beyond the divide between Indigenous peoples and newcomers or vernacular and academic ways of knowing? The present dissertation answers this question by developing the notion of an environmental archive. Such an archive does not have particular reference to a given place but rather it refers to the complex network that marks the relations between paper documents and human and non-human agencies as they are able to work together and stabilise the conceptualisation of a variety of environmental objects. The author thus argues that the environment does not only contain information about the past but just like any paper (or audio and video) archive is able to produce it through the relational nature of human-environment interactions. Through the analysis of five case studies from the Russian North, the reader is invited to go through various forms of environmental archives which in turn embrace histories of a number of disciplines such as palaeontology, biology, anthropology, and medicine. Every case or a “layer” is presented here as a contact zone where Indigenous and academic forms of knowledge are not opposed to each other but, on the contrary, are able to interact and consequently affect the global discussions about the Russian Arctic. This transnational context is pivotal for all the cases discussed in the dissertation. Moreover, by putting the Cold War with its tensions between two superpowers at the chronological center of the present work, the author aims to reveal the multidimensionality of in situ interactions with, for instance, the paleontological remains or the traces of all-terrain vehicles and their involvement into broader science transnational cooperations and competitions. As a result, the heterogeneous archives allow us to reconsider the environmental history of the Russian North and the wider Arctic and open a new avenue for future research transcending the geopolitical and epistemic borders of knowledge production.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherKTH Royal Institute of Technology
Number of pages221
ISBN (Print)978-91-7873-931-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameDoctoral Theses in History of Science, Technology, and Environment


  • Environmental Archive
  • Russian Arctic
  • Encounters
  • Cold War
  • Indigenous and Academic Ways of Knowing


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