Turning Hunters into Herders: A Critical Examination of Soviet Development Policy among the Evenki of Southeastern Siberia


  • David G. Anderson




Acculturation, Baykal-Amur Railroad, Economic policy, Evenki, Fishing, Government, Government relations, Hunting, Railroads, Reindeer husbandry, Social conditions, Social policy, Socio-economic effects, Subsistence, Baykal, Lake, Russian Federation, Buryatskaya Respublika, Sibir'


The construction of the Baikal-Amur railway corridor through the northern raioni of the Buriat Autonomous Republic and Amurskaia oblast' (R.S.F.S.R.) has had a marked impact on the traditional hunting, trapping, and herding activities of the aboriginal Evenk population. Traditional occupations have been adapted to support large numbers of migrant labourers and a burgeoning urban population. The effects of industrial development range from the ardent promotion of reindeer breeding over other aboriginal economic sectors to the complete marginalization of all aboriginal economic initiatives and their replacement with forms of economy foreign to the region. The significance of industrial development among the Evenki is understood in the context of Soviet development policy. While Soviet prescriptions for the Evenki may be made logically consistent by appealing to an interpretation of world history, when they are evaluated from a regional level of analysis they appear to be both voluntaristic and economistic. The contradictions of Soviet development policy have produced state/civil society conflicts that can be interpreted as a form of alienation.

Key words: U.S.S.R., Siberia, Buriatskaia A.S.S.R., Evenki, Baikal-Amurskaia railway main line, non-capitalist path of development