Main content area

Reindeer Herders Without Reindeer. The Challenges of Joint Knowledge Production on Kolguev Island in the Russian Arctic

Pristupa, Alexey O., Lamers, Machiel, Tysiachniouk, Maria, Amelung, Bas
Society & natural resources 2019 v.32 no.3 pp. 338-356
ecosystem management, ecosystems, herding, indigenous knowledge, indigenous peoples, learning, livelihood, reindeer, tundra, Arctic region
Kolguev Island in the Russian Arctic has a unique tundra ecosystem and an indigenous Nenets population whose livelihood is traditionally based on reindeer herding. The Nenets faced a major crisis in 2013–2014 when the reindeer population collapsed. Widely different explanations for this collapse were put forward. This lack of a shared perspective points at the failure of genuine joint knowledge production (JKP) in the island’s UNEP–GEF’s ECORA project (2004–2009). The ECORA project aimed to achieve integrated ecosystem management by stimulating dialog and mutual learning among indigenous people, state agencies, and scientists. This paper analyses the failure of ECORA’s JKP, using a recently developed framework of conditions for successful JKP. The results suggest that ECORA met none of these conditions. It failed at bringing the scientific and indigenous knowledge systems together, and the produced knowledge did not resonate with indigenous people’s perception of living in Kolguev.