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Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 12: Flexibility in Indigenous Exchange Practices in Northern Russia
John P. Ziker Introduction This chapter describes two complementary trends and several local categories of economic strategy observed among the Dolgan and Nganasan in the Taimyr Autonomous Region, Northern Russia. With the collapse of the planned economy after 1991 and the introduction of market and democratic reforms, entrepreneurship among the indigenous peoples of the Russian North was hoped to replace the large and ineﬃcient state farms (sovkhoz) where most native people worked. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree calling for immediate measures to protect the land and economic activities of the native people of Siberia. In Taimyr, charters were granted and land was allocated to small native organizations wishing to produce and market goods in the regional economy. The success of these organizations was, and still is, mixed. A complementary trend is found in local economic levelling mechanisms that function to maintain social equity in remote native communities. Despite the drastic changes experienced throughout the twentieth century, allocation and distribution of resources occurs mainly according to social relationships rather than economic payoﬀs. By looking at observable resource transfers and the traditional logic behind them, the eﬀectiveness and combination of strategies can be described. It is arguable that ﬂexibility in non-market economics provides a ﬂoor on economic destitution and a ceiling on aspiration in remote communities in the Taimyr. It remains to be documented how generosity and sharing survives a context of global markets developing largely in Taimyr’s urban centers. Property ‘solutions’ and entrepreneurship As Russia began to...
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