"A right attitude towards animals": The Soviet influence on the human-animal relations in Yuri Rytkheu's prose fiction

Activity: Talk or presentationConference presentation


Contributors: Kuikka, Eeva / In my presentation, I look at the prose works of a Chukchi author called Yuri Rytkheu. I analyze how he describes the influence of the Soviet colonization of the Far North on the relationship between indigenous people and the nonhuman animals of the area. I argue, that this question reflects indigenous people's balancing of their traditional worldview with the modern one promoted by the Russian colonizers. As the indigenous people's traditional livelihoods depended upon Arctic animals, they had developed their own, cultural ways of dealing with the animals and understanding their relationship with them. The Soviet authorities, however, replaced the cultural worldview and epistemologies concerning the relationship between humans and animals with modern understanding based on materialism and natural sciences. I approach this question through Gayatri Spivak's concept of epistemic violoence, as I explore the replacement of the indigenous tradition with the values of the hegemonic culture as an act of such violoence. I also pay attention to the different ways in which Rytkheu treats this issue during different periods of time by comparing two of his short novels, The Harpooner, published in 1969, and Under the constellation of grief published in 2007 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Period24 May 2019
Event titleAnimals of the Arctic: From Symbiosis to Symbols. The 9th Arctic Workshop of the University of Tartu
Event typeOther
Degree of RecognitionInternational