Rakhmanova L. Ya. “What are you Eating Money for?” — on the Resource and Non-Resource Nature of Fish
Lidia Ya. Rakhmanova
National Research University Higher School of Economics;
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russia
ABSTRACT. What is the difference between “trashy” and valuable species of fish? Is it possible to say that the former become ‘food’ for local people, while the latter become “commodity”? In settlements where sterlet, muksun and sturgeon are the backbone of many families, the circulation of fish between the parties takes on different forms, the meaning of which can only be understood ad hoc. The drop in catches in the Ob River means that the importance of fish as part of the diet is overshadowed, and fish is mainly sold, exchanged and bribed. Thus, for example, the value of sterlet has been justified in several perspectives: its rarity, taste properties, content of nutrients and the historical tradition of its consumption by high-ranking officials. However, a contradiction emerges in these justifications of the symbolic value of fish: how can a person, who hardly ever consumes fish himself, describe its properties and health benefits? And, on the other hand, if sterlet is included in his daily diet, can it still be considered a “royal fish”, a unique and high-status product? This article is based on the abovedescribed “interplay” of practices and justifications of the “nature” and value of fish.
KEYWORDS: food, nutrition, fishing, Ob, Tomsk Region, exchange, gift, natural resources management, resource, value
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