Skvirskaja V. ‘Nenets Marriage’: the Political Economy of Desire and Matrimonial Emotions

Vera Skvirskaja
University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark


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ABSTRACT. Based on ethnographic fieldwork on the northern Yamal Peninsula (2000– 2001), this paper discusses people’s experiences and expectations of married life and how these expectations are influenced by affective ties to a wide range of relations. Two types of marriage — arranged marriage and love marriages between Nenets women and Russian newcomers — are used to illustrate the ways in which marriage is not only about the sentiments of spouses, but often brings to the fore the political economy of desire and local reflections on the good society. The paper suggests that while Soviet ideology and post-Soviet neo-traditionalist discourses have endorsed particular emotional registers deemed appropriate for ‘traditional’ Nenets marriage, marriage with Russians often leads to a situation where love, attraction or the excitement of ‘alien romance’ (Tsing 1993) are not necessarily tied to a nuclear family ideal. It argues that while issues of mobility and spatial orientation (to tundra or settlement) in marriage strategies do not remain static over the course of one’s life, tundra marriage is commonly underwritten by subjectively understood chances of leading a good family life.


KEYWORDS: kinship obligations, relatedness, spatial orientation, gender, Yamal


УДК392.57(=511.2) = 111
DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2018-1-175-184 



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