Reindeer Nomads Meet the Market: Culture, Property and Globalisation at the 'End of the Land'

Florian Stammler

Münster: Lit-Verlag

Year of publication



Pastoral nomads are often idealised for their independence, pride and freedom. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the reindeer herds of the Yamal-Nenets District have become the largest in the world and Nenets herders are renowned throughout the circumpolar world as self-reliant, independent pastoralists.Stammler meticulously analyses relations between these reindeer nomads and their social, political and natural environments, exploring continuities and changes in their concepts of property and territory, as well as in their engagement with the developing market economy. Their high social adaptability is combined with a sense of belonging to their animals and their land by living out the nomadic nenei ilngana, or ‘real lifestyle’.Refuting essentialist notions of Nenets culture, the author explores the dialogue between reindeer nomads and the surrounding world and shows how global processes and concepts such as culture, property and market are expressed in local practices. He demonstrates how reindeer nomads move freely between subsistence and commodity production; state-owned and private reindeer; animism, communism, and market relations; and territorial defence and cooperative knowledge of the land. This study makes an original and significant contribution to wider debates about nomadic pastoralism and to anthropological studies of trade, barter, property and territoriality.

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