2007 can be considered the year of “EthnoExpert” foundation. Back then St. Petersburg State University specialists of different backgrounds joined forces to conduct a comprehensive survey of the Kaninsk tundra pre-industrial development areas: not only ethnographic, but also socio-economic, cultural and ecological.

14 specialists from scientific institutions from Russia, Latvia, China and Norway took part in the Northern Expedition-2007 as part of ‘Innovative Educational Environment in the Classical University’ project (the national project ‘Education’). Among the scientists were specialists from St. Petersburg State University, Russian Ethnographic Museum, Institute of Environmental Problems of the North, University of Tromsø (Norway), Central University of Nationalities (China), and Daugavpils Institute of Biological Systematics (Latvia). Students and graduates of St. Petersburg State University’s historical faculty also participated in the expedition. Konstantin Klokov, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, Professor of the St. Petersburg State University Regional Policy and Political Geography Department was the leader of the expedition.

Extreme conditions

The expedition passed beyond the Arctic Circle in severe weather conditions (temperature fluctuations from +3 to +25, storm winds up to 20-25 m/s, high humidity) and the terrain difficulties (sharp elevations of up to 200-240 meters, water barriers and tundra bogs). The specificity of work with the nomadic population required trekking routes of 70-100 kilometers.

The results

The expedition reached the extreme point of the peninsula – Cape Kanin Nose. Expedition members surveyed 40 Kaninsk tundra reindeer-breeding families and carried out a White Sea coast settlement research. Scientists examined biodiversity in the Kanin Kamen mountain range area in the north-western peninsula part.

The Northern Expedition collected unique personal data on the socio-economic and demographic situation in the region as well as mapped reindeer herders’ camps, their routes and pasture areas.

Methods

The field research methodology developed for the expedition includes the use of the most up-to-date information technologies: satellite navigation and communication, digital video and photography, computer data processing and GIS.

“Circumpolar census of 1926-27” comparative data analysis and modern field materials allow assessing the socio-economic, cultural and environmental change dynamics that have occurred with the nomadic peoples of the European North over the past 80 years.

Based on the survey results, expedition participants published the collected papers and the monography:

  • “Circumpolar census of 1926-27 of the European North: (Arkhangelsk Gubernia and the Komi Autonomous Region)”
  • “1926/27 Soviet Polar Census Expeditions: A Re-discovery of Russia’s Northern Peoples and Their Lands. Ed. by David G. Anderson. N.Y.; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2011”