Melnikova E. Wildlife Infrastructure on the Territory of the Valaam Monastery: the Experience of Subjective Exploration

Ekaterina Melnikova
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation 
ORCID: 0000-0001-6764-9240 


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ABSTRACT. The paper is grounded on the autoethnography of the field research conducted by the author in the Valaam Monastery in the summer of 2019. In an attempt of distancing from the “religious-secular” dichotomy, the author employs her backpacker experience as an entrance into the field, analytical tool and research optics. The author argues that backpacker tourism rooted in the practices of the late Soviet intelligentsia is still popular among the visitors of the archipelago, who have to negotiate their love of nature with the rules and conventions of the religious shrine. The paper describes the island infrastructure and symbolic bordering of the space between religious and natural areas. The author concludes about the co-existence of various regimes in order to use the island landscape shaped by the status of Valaam as a historical and cultural heritage object, a natural reserve, the famous Orthodox shrine of the Russian North-West and a popular eco-tourism destination. Backpacker practices of interaction with the nature, people, and the monastery in the archipelago are in the core focus of the research.


KEYWORDS: tourism, anthropology of landscape, religious pilgrimage, nature, postsecularism 


DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2021-1(11)-208-222
УДК 241.1+338.48.5



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