Publication Date

5-2009

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Masters of Arts in Anthropology

Department

Anthropology

Major Advisor

John P. Ziker

Abstract

This thesis describes the transformation of households and property relations in one of the remote provinces of Southern Siberia - Tyva Republic. The thesis identifies continuities and developments in land tenure during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods and tests various theoretical propositions in Economic Anthropology. Land tenure and resource management is a central issue in Tyva.

Particular attention is paid to the segment of Tyvan people who have continued a traditional style of life – the herders and hunters who are now living in new political and economical conditions. Even though their number is not big, the people in the nomadic culture play an important role in social life in Tyva. Tyvan herders are not pure nomads as Tyvan society has undergone significant transformation shifted due to historical impact of different outsiders: Chinese Empire, Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union as well.

The economic problems related to the study of organization of modern nomadic Tyvan households is particularly important in post-Soviet period because it is unclear whether formal legal rights to land are needed and the economic exigencies of the time have forced many people to sell some of their domestic animals. In this thesis I will discuss existing mixed economies and how the traditional resource-use strategies are maintained in response to social and economic changes of the post-socialist era in different parts of Tyva. Further, there is a question as to the degree that traditional management of herding and hunting is preserved and how that preservation relates to the protection of culture and identity.

The thesis describes and characterizes the main two types of property relations: (1) livestock and Tyvan household economy, and (2) land. The thesis examines the changes in property during the Soviet and Post-Soviet periods. Tyvans are seeking solutions for existing social and environmental problems and developing strategies in the current situation. I suggest that that the ideas about property in Tyva need to take into account Tyvan customs and how spiritual-emotional connections to the land are created and perpetuated. How Tyvans relate to the imposition of the Russian (western) concept of property and influence of the Russian culture itself also needs to be considered. I suggest that the exclusive aspects of property from this imposed system are a threat to the whole Tyvan culture and environmental sustainability.

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