Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Far Eastern Borderlands: Informal Networks and Space at the Margins of the Russian State (Award# 1124615)

PI: Holzlehner, Tobias (
Phone: (907) 474.5911 
Institute/Department: U of Alaska, Fairbanks, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Anna Kerttula (
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences\Anthropology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
In an increasingly globalized world, borderlands provide a very interesting point of investigation of the direction and pace of socio-economic change. This project is comparative ethnographic research of two post-Soviet border zones, Chukotka in the North East and Primore in the southeastern region of Russia. These two regions of the former Soviet Union are of particular interest because the main populations are ethnic minority peoples marginalized both socially and geographically by the majority social and political structure yet in the contemporary geopolitical situation, they occupy the borders with two economic-political super powers, China and the US. As part of his research, the PI will investigate such issues as commodity flow, global mobilities, border space, and informal economies and how these affect local social structures and cultural identities of the people that occupy this porous borderland landscape. Using multiple methodologies: participant observations, archival research, interviews and a Google map-based geo-visualization tool to facilitate an understanding of social pattern in physical space, the project will be able to analyze individual informal networks and community social networks, as well as spatially embedded economic practices, in both border zones in greater depth.

Logistics Summary:
This project will use a comparative approach to investigate the flow of commodities and migrants, the economic strategies and spatial practices of inhabitants in two different border regions of the Russian Far East, the Chukotka Autonomous Region (Chukotskii Avtonomnyi Okrug) and the Primore (Primorskii Krai). The PI will conduct two participatory fieldwork sessions with on-site interviews and social network analysis in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, three months will be spent in Vladivostok (Primorskii Krai) and two other towns in the area. In 2013, two months will be spent in Anadyr (Chukotka) and in two coastal communities (Lavrentiya, and Uelen).

CPS will support the Chukotka work via a subcontract with the Chukotka Science support Group (CSSG) for trip planning/implementation, coordination, and transportation/lodging/meals within Chukotka. CPS will cover travel tickets within Russia, as well as a sat phone. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the researchers from the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2013Russia - Anadyr06 / 24 / 2013 08 / 15 / 20131
2013Russia - Lavrentiya06 / 26 / 2013 07 / 04 / 20131
2013Russia - Uelen07 / 08 / 2013 07 / 22 / 20131

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