Arsenii Konnov, Yana Khmelnitskaya, Maria Dugina, Tatiana Borzenko and Maria Tysiachniouk
Traditional livelihood, unstable environment: adaptation of traditional fishing and reindeer herding to environmental change in the Russian Arctic
Abstract
The effects of climate change are much more pronounced in the Arctic region than in other places around the world. This paper highlights the practices of adaptation to climate change by Indigenous reindeer herders, e.g., Saami and Komi-Izhemtsy, and Pomor fishermen, in the Russian Arctic. Our major research question is: How does the interplay of social and environmental factors determine traditional reindeer herding and fishing in the Russian North in the context of climate change, including seasonal changes? A qualitative methodology was used in both reindeer herding and fishing communities using the same interview guide. As an analytical lens, we chose resilience theory combined with the actor–network theory. Resilience theory allows us to situate the adaptive capacity of reindeer herders and fisherman within a constantly changing context. The actor–network theory offers a non-human-centered framework which allows the reconstruction of the networks that emerge in the context of adaptation and link humans, material objects, and the living environment. We found that the traditional economic activity of reindeer herders and fishermen is significantly affected by socio-economic and environmental factors. Both reindeer herders and fishermen manage to adapt to the changing environment using local knowledge and different kinds of technical tools. However, socio-economic conditions and accelerating climate change put the resilience of Indigenous communities at risk.
Keywords: reindeer herding; fishermen; Russian Arctic; resilience; actor–network theory; climate change; Indigenous peoples