Storying with Land: Tracing Environmental and Societal Changes in the Sayan and Altay Mountains, Inner Asia

Storying with Land: Tracing Environmental and Societal Changes in the Sayan and Altay Mountains, Inner Asia

Talk by Victoria Soyan Peemot, University of Helsinki

23 November 2021, TUE, 14:00-15:30 (Helsinki)

LOCATION: PORTHANIA 244 HELSUS LOUNGE, University of Helsinki 

For ZOOM Link please register HERE by November 22. You will receive the ZOOM link an hour before the event.

This research project explores stories of land in the Sayan and Altay Mountains, Inner Asia. Since the beginning of the twentieth century the region has been controlled, subsequently, by the Qing Empire, Russian Empire, and Soviet Russia. Currently the region is situated between Mongolia, Russia, and China. As a starting point, I draw on the archive of the 1917 Finnish Geological Expedition to Uriankhai (currently—the Tyva Republic, Russia). As the second temporal frame for comparative studies, I investigate community-homeland relationships and circulation of land stories in present-day Russia at the intersection of the state’s mining regulations and politics of memory. I investigate the potential of landscapes in keeping, sharing, and ensuring continuity of human-nonhuman stories.

Photo C-124_Pehrman

Voronin at the gold mines. 10.8.1917. Photo by Gunnar Pehrman (1895-1980), geologist.

The photograph was taken in the Kaa-Khem river region, the Tyva Republic.



Victoria Soyan Peemot is a journalist, ethnographer, and Ph.D. student in cultural studies at the University of Helsinki. Her research is supported by the Kone Foundation (2018-2021). Raised by her grandparents in the Tyva Republic, she spent her youth riding horses and herding livestock on the Inner Asian steppe. She takes a critical approach to these experiences in her doctoral research, which examines the complexity of bonds connecting horses and herders in the Sayan-Altai Mountain Region of Russia and Mongolia. Victoria will defend her doctoral dissertation entitled ‘The Horse in My Blood: Land-Based Kinship in the Sayan and Altay Mountains, Inner Asia’ in December 2021.

In her postdoctoral research project Victoria draws on Indigenous and academic epistemologies—storying with landscapes, analysing archival materials, and studying history of mining and its impact— to trace environmental and societal changes in the region.

Victoria co-authored a series of essay films “Cher Törel: In Kinship with the Land” about how people relate to their animals and homelands in Inner Asia in collaboration with Dr Robert O. Beahrs from the Center for Advanced Research in Music, Istanbul Technical University.

Photo by Stanislav Krupar (published with the author’s permission).

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