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Dachas on permafrost: the creation of nature among Arctic Russian city-dwellers

  • Florian Stammler (a1) and Lena Sidorova (a2)

Abstract

This article analyses the phenomenon of the post-Soviet Russian summer cottage, dacha, in the Arctic. We take an ethnographic comparative perspective for contributing to the refinement of our understanding of human-environment relations and urban anthropology of incomer-northerners, those with roots somewhere outside the north. Evidence from fieldwork in Murmansk Oblast, West Siberia and Sakha-Yakutia shows how for a socialist and post-socialist northern urban livelihood, the dacha has become an indispensable counterpart of life in the urban concrete housing blocks for most Russian northern inhabitants. We explore in this article the importance of dacha for northern identity of urban dwellers, by analysing spheres of individual and collective agency, freedom, attachment to place and land. We conclude that the dacha movement has filled a gap that had been left open by Soviet Arctic urbanisation: a dacha has come to stand for a human-environment relationship that gradually re-introduces rurality to urban life in the Russian Arctic so permanently that dacha places start losing their seasonal character.

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Dachas on permafrost: the creation of nature among Arctic Russian city-dwellers

  • Florian Stammler (a1) and Lena Sidorova (a2)

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