Mittwoch, 25. Mrz 2015, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar - David Koester

Expression and Alienation on Kamchatka Peninsula:Reflections of Salmon in Itelmen Cultural History

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie
Universitätsstraße 7, NIG 4. Stock, 1010 Wien


Salmon have traditionally been immensely important as a subsistence resource for Itelmen people in the Russian Far East. Yet despite this central position, salmon were, until recently, remarkably little represented in Itelmen performative, expressive culture. Since the mid eighteenth century Itelmen people have been known in world ethnographic literature for their connection with the huge salmon runs of Kamchatka peninsula. Contemporary, recent and historical sources also affirm this connection to salmon as a vital economic resource around which subsistence activities were organized and social life was ordered. Yet, despite this acknowledged practical importance, and in contrast to the prominence of salmon themes among indigenous counterparts around the North Pacific, relatively little reference was made to salmon in the numerous Itelmen folk tales and stories that have been recorded. Salmon, it seems, were so much a part of daily life that, as objects of cultural interest, they were unelaborated background. Over the years conceptual, economic, political and even ethnic modes or forms of alienation have increasingly separated Itelmen people from this traditionally inalienable resource. This presentation begins by exploring the extent to which salmon have been discussed, reflected in institutions and presented in Itelmen expressive culture. It then examines how various forms of separation have emerged to alienate Itelmens from this most traditional of resources. The historical development and nature of these forms of alienation figure directly in Itelmens’ current political struggle for resource rights.

David Koester, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA Visiting Senior Researcher, Groupe Société, Religion, Laïcité, (GSRL UMR 8582 CNRS/EPHE), Paris, France


Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Mag. Marie-Therese Hartwig
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie