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The Native Settler: Contesting Local Identities on Russia's Resource Frontier

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An anthropologist with unique knowledge of the current transformation of Chukotka, under its recently elected "oligarch" governor Roman Abramovich, presents an ethnographic analysis of local settler (indigenous) responses to the modernization program under way in this region. Drawing from 14 months of fieldwork over the first two years of Abramovich's tenure, the author describes the objectives and methods of his reforms, emerging patterns of settlement and economic activity resulting from Abramovich's project, and the manner in which local settlers understand these changes and their own role in the "new Chukotka." As settlers express localist discourses of belonging as a form of resistance to outsider-led change, they are moving into the rhetorical space indigenous peoples in Chukotka have traditionally inhabited. The author consequently explores the concepts of "migrancy" and "indigeneity" and the possibility of non-native settlers legitimating claims of nativeness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-04-01

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