Davydov V. N. Containerization of the Arctic: Mobile Modules of Space Appropriation in the Far North

Vladimir N. Davydov
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russia

E-mail: davydov.kunstkamera@gmail.com


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ABSTRACT. People have designed the iron container to rationalize cargo transportation. In the Arctic, it has become a universal module for the appropriation of space. Installed in a specifi c place, it can be used as a stationary structure and a place for storing things, equipment and food, and also as a temporary dwelling. Drawing on the examples of the fi eld materials collected in Taimyr and Chukotka, the author examines the ways of using iron containers in the households of local people in the situation of relative remoteness from the centers of resource distribution. Under the conditions of the Far North, iron container is gradually turning into a dominant module replacing other structures. Its special qualities, resistance to deformation, mobility, and applicability for the performance of a large range of everyday tasks―all of this makes it a useful element of the economic practices of both the local population and newcomers. Following John Urry’s concept of offshoring, the author analyzes how informal economy practices involve the inland communities, changing spatial practices and materiality in the Arctic. He concludes that the appropriation of the northern territories by humans is a result of the creative use of modular systems, including both complexes of material objects used by nomads and innovative mobile modules, which allow a more effective use of resources in the situation of harsh natural and climatic conditions.


KEYWORDS: Arctic, Chukotka, Taimyr, remoteness, infrastructure, mobility, storage space


УДК 397.4(571.511)
DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2020-3(9)-121-129



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