Late Winter in Arkhangelsk and Pinega

After the month I spent with the reindeer herder on the Kanin peninsula in summer (I will give an overview in the next post), my plan was to visit them at their winter pastures in the Arkhangelsk region some hundreds kilometres further south of Kanin.

Lenin on the main square in Arkhangelsk

Lenin on the main square in Arkhangelsk

I thought I could visit the 7th brigade of the reindeer cooperative “Obshina Kanin” and then travel up to the north to the village of Nes’ to interview some elders there. But I need a border zone permit from the border guard in Arkhangelsk to be allowed to enter the territory next to the cost and the villages there including Nes’. To get one takes weeks and weeks. I got one in summer, but it took also a long time. Hopefully I’ll get the permit in April, when I’m returning to the region.

After staying in Arkhangelsk for almost a week waiting the permit I went to the big village (an former small town) of Pinega to visit at least the reindeer herders staying outside the border zone.

The German communist Otto Handwerg (Отто Гандшерг) emmigratedt to the USSR and executed during the party cleansing in 1937. His family was banished to Pinega subsequently.

The German communist Otto Handwerg (Отто Гандшерг, on the lower right) emmigrated to the USSR and was executed during the party cleansing in 1937. His family was banished to Pinega subsequently. Display in the Pinega museum.

I visited the nice local museum here in Pinega and was surprised to learn how diverse influences shaped the local history. A lot of newcomers came against their will to Pinega: banished left wing revolutionaries, poets, intellectuals searching for unspoiled Russian folk life, American soldiers during the the civil war, banned Ukrainian peasants accused of being too wealthy and than the long row of “enemies of the people”: the opposition within the Russian left, the party members that were decimated, the suspicious nations like the Germans, even the families of executed German communists – became either settlers in special villages or inmates in the Gulag camps on the river Kuloi.

Houses of the rich merchant family Volodin in Pinega

Houses of the rich merchant family Volodin in Pinega

From the abolishment of the Gulag under Khrushchev on the town seem to have shrunk in importance and only a few remaining trader’s houses witness the pre-Soviet wealth.

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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
This entry was posted in Memory, Repression, Soviet Union and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Late Winter in Arkhangelsk and Pinega

  1. Pingback: Report of my travel to the Kanin reindeer herders in March 2013. | Stephan Dudeck – Arctic Fieldwork

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