Khongurei – and the Kolkhoz of the “Red Reindeer”

So much happened in the last two weeks, that I don’t know where to start. So I will post in the next days fresh impressions from my first weeks of fieldwork in a small village on the banks of the Pechora River.

Now it’s time of the midnight sun and I had the luck to watch a miracle of nature, when at midnight a double rainbow appeared in the south, opposite to the sun which was just on the horizon in the north.

Midnight-rainbow over the village of Khongurei and the River Pechora

View to the North at midnight

From Naryan-Mar I travelled down the River Pechora to the little village of Khongurei to visit the Nenets journalist Julia Taleeva at her mothers place.

Julia Taleeva the journalist from the regional newspaper Nyaryana Vynder (The Red North) who grew up in the village

She promised to make me acquainted here with old people who still remember the old times, when they migrated with their herds in the tundra around the outpost Ledkova, which was established by Soviet authorities at the beginning of the 1930s when the the Kolkhoz of the red reindeer “Nyaryana Ty” was founded. The small settlement was abandoned already in the 1960s.

Julia helped to interview Aleksandra Germogenvna Taleeva, the 85 years old sister of her father. Her grandfather and father of Alexandra died in prison and all his reindeer were confiscated by the state after he critisised the Soviet politics in the 1930s.

At the end of the 1950s Khongurei on the banks of the Pechora was chosen as the place where all reindeer herding families should settle down and reindeer herding had to become a shift work business for the men only.

Farewell picture on the banks of the River Pechora in front of the village Khongurei

Nenets reindeer herders were supposed to work like fishermen on the sea, and meet their families only in their free shift. At the long run the effect was devastating because the younger generation lost almost the skills of reindeer herding and the ability and motivation to live in the tundra. Most of the herders now are single man. Cattle and horse breeding and the fox farm are closed down, because the long winter and low fur prices make these businesses unprofitable.

My “home” in Khongurei.

I am living here with Nadezhda Kaneva, the sister of Julia, in the small four room wooden house that was build in the sixties, when her mother had to settle in the village.

Nadezhda Kaneva, my host in Khongurei.

Nadezhda is working at the post office, and helped me to register with the migration authorities. It took us several hours to fill out all the forms available at the post office, but we managed to send them by registered mail to the authorities.

I took my working place at Nadezhdas kitchen and she cared lovely all the days about my well-being.

My working place on Nadezhda’s kitchen table, where I spend the evenings. At least I could check my e-mails here with a slow connection over mobile phone network.



About Stephan Dudeck

Anthropologist at the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Centre for Arctic Social Studies at the European University at Saint Petersburg and the Centre of Arctic and Siberian Exploration at the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
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8 Responses to Khongurei – and the Kolkhoz of the “Red Reindeer”

  1. fstammle says:

    what a gorgeous picture with the rainbow! You seem to be lucky with the weather AND your hosts! That’s great, especially in Khongurei which together with Nel’min Nos ‘hosted’ this experiment as interesting as sad: fly-in / fly-out reindeer herding. Looking forward to find out how people look back on this.

  2. Dear Stephan, thank you very much for the fascinating reports about your work in the Arctic. I enjoy each time reading them and wish you further a succesful and pleasant stay. Alles Gute!

    • Stephan Dudeck says:

      Thank you Tjeerd. I hope I will continue my work soon in the village of Nes’ in the west of the region. Cross fingers that I get the permission and plane tickets. They are very hard to get.

  3. Штефан,рада в очереднйо раз видеть и слышать тебя. Увидела знакомое лицо Юли Талеевой:-) Ни разу не была в Хонгурее. после твоего рассказа захотелось увидеть все воочию. Пиши о своих путешествиях,это очень интересно. Порекомендовала друзьям твой пост.

    • Stephan Dudeck says:

      Спасибо Ирина! Я надеюсь что в следующих дней могу еще больше здесь писать о том, что узнал там. Надеюсь что будет тоже время сочинять что-то на русском языке как продолжение гостевого на чумотеке. Чтобы те, которые не так хорошо знают английский, тоже могли бы узнавать чем я занимаюсь. Следующая точка куда я отправляюсь будет Несь (если достану билет).

  4. Stephan, can’t beleive your back! Khongurei looks so different without the snow! Beautiful pictures and fantastic blog!
    Safe travels,
    Diana 🙂

    • Stephan Dudeck says:

      Yes, I’m back! Anthropological fieldwork begins when people start to integrate you into their lifes and that doesn’t happen after some days. Unfortunately some bureaucrats don’t understand, why it is important for our research to stay longer than a few days and just ask a list of preformulated questions. And unfortunately our work often depends on their decisions.

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