Confrontation, coexistence or co-ignorance? negotiating human-resource relations in two Russian regions

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19 Citations (Scopus)


This contribution analyses relations between people and resources according to two principal logics which we identified during fieldwork in the Russian Arctic and sub-Arctic: the utilitarian logic standing for the idea that humans own, control and exploit the land, and the partnership logic standing for humans living as part of the land in a reciprocal relationship. We investigate the encounter of these two in the Russian industrialised North. In all cases we see people agree that the utilitarian logic prevails. The partnership logic can exist safely only in a narrowly circumscribed niche. State law governs this niche, based on the utilitarian assumption that resources have to be useful for human society. Drawing on data from Kamchatka and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, we identify three scenarios of the encounter between those two logics in people- resource relations: confrontation, coexistence and co-ignorance. We analyse under which conditions this encounter assumes which form. We conclude that a partnership approach to land and resources can only survive as a marginal island in a world dominated by an extractivist mindset, but that indigenous people can preserve a niche for their partnership approach if they internalise the utilitarian logic, acknowledge its dominance and learn to play the extractivist game.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-72
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Human-resource relations
  • Industrialisation
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Russian North
  • Extractivism

Field of science

  • Social anthropology


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