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Reclaiming the Forest

Reclaiming the Forest

Åshild Kolås | Yuanyuan Xie


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The reindeer herders of Aoluguya, China, are a group of former hunters who today see themselves as “keepers of reindeer” as they engage in ethnic tourism and exchange experiences with their Ewenki neighbors in Russian Siberia. Though to some their future seems problematic, this book focuses on the present, challenging the pessimistic outlook, reviewing current issues, and describing the efforts of the Ewenki to reclaim their forest lifestyle and develop new forest livelihoods. Both academic and literary contributions balance the volume written by authors who are either indigenous to the region or have carried out fieldwork among the Aoluguya Ewenki since the late 1990s.

Yuanyuan Xie is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, College of Humanities and Development Studies, China Agricultural University. She carried out a year-long fieldwork in Aoluguya in 2003–2004, just after the resettlement and is working on a research project about the Aologuya Ewenki funded by the Chinese National Social Science Foundation.

“This edited volume is the first book-length, English-language publication devoted to [the Ewenki] and makes a very welcome addition to the growing ethnographic literature on northern Asia’s indigenous peoples… The book strikes an elegant balance between history, contemporary social commentary, and original narratives by members of the Ewenki community… This valuable contribution is ideal for acquainting the broader world with one of China’s least-known minority groups, for anthropologists and social historians as well as readers hoping to learn something new about Asia’s modern pastoral peoples. Highly recommended.” · Choice

“[This volume] makes a considerable contribution to indigenous studies in general. One of the significant features of his collection is that the authors represent a highly complicated picture of the relations between the state and the Ewenki community that is far from the plain schemes discussing challenges facing indigenous communities today through the simplistic ‘civilixation/tradition’ dichotomy.“ · Nomadic Peoples

“[The book] It provides a thorough presentation of the history and life of the Ewenki of Aoluguya, and is both an important contribution to the otherwise scarce English-language literature on this particular group of people and at the same time adds valuable knowledge to the anthropology of northern Eurasian peoples as a whole.” · Anthropology Book Forum

Reclaiming the Forest touches on many essential topics in current anthropology—the expansion of the state, tradition versus modernization, development and privatization, and the survival and revival of indigenous culture—and portrays them particularly effectively by focusing on one group in one place.” · Anthropology Review Database

“This is an exciting, finely crafted edited collection which focuses on a group of Ewenki who are poorly known in the English language literature... The volume is evenly balanced with both academic and literary contributions by local Ewenki authors.” · David Anderson, University of Aberdeen

“This book is a valuable contribution to the anthropology of northern Eurasian peoples. With contributions by Western and Chinese anthropologists, along with contributions by Ewenki reindeer herders themselves, the book is a comprehensive and innovative presentation of the history and lifeways of the Ewenki of Aoluguya.” · John Ziker, Boise State University

Åshild Kolås is Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and has authored two books and numerous articles, mainly on Tibetan identity and cultural representation. She carried out fieldwork in Aoluguya in 2008 and 2009, conducted under a project on “Pastoralism in China: Policy and Practice” funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Reclaiming the Forest i
Contents v
Figures vii
Foreword viii
Acknowledgments xii
Introduction — Writing the \"Reindeer Ewenki 1
Part I — Encountering the Ewenki 19
Chapter 1 — From Nomads to Settlers: A History of the Aoluguya Ewenki (1965–1999) 21
Part II — Migrations: Reindeer Herding in Flux 43
Chapter 2 — In the Forest Pastures of the Reindeer 45
Chapter 3 — Ambiguities of the Aoluguya Ewenki 61
Chapter 4 — The Many Faces of Nomadism among the Reindeer Ewenki: Uses of Land, Mobility, and Exchange Networks 77
Part III — Representations: Defining the Reindeer Ewenki Culture and Identity 99
Chapter 5 — A Passage from Forest to State: The Aoluguya Ewenki and their Museums 101
Chapter 6 — The Ecological Migration and Ewenki Identity 119
Chapter 7 — Tents, Taiga, and Tourist Parks: Vernacular Ewenki Architecture and the State 130
Part IV — Local Voices 157
Chapter 8 — Campfire 159
Chapter 9 — My Homeland 160
Chapter 10 — Hunting along the Bei'erci River 168
Glossary of Chinese and Ewenki Terms 187
Contributors 191
Index 194