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    Social antrophology text + presentation Social antrophology text + presentation Document Transcript

    •                     SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY - UNDERSTANDING CONSTITUTION OF IDENTITY IN NIKEL, A RUSSIAN INDUSTRIAL CITY INA BAKKA SEM-OLSEN BERGEN ARKITEKTSKOLE DIPLOM 2010                                                    
    •   Introduction    The first idea to do my diploma in Nikel came after a semester course dealing with the  region of the Barents area, ‐ a few years ago named the “Barents region “ after a political  decision on collaboration across the borders in these northern areas.  During a study trip to the northern areas of Norway and Russia I was intrigued by the  situation in Nikel. Due to its oppositeness to the Norwegian society and the history  commonly told to the Norwegian population, the city was entered with a certain attitude  of tragedy and suffocation. The impression was albeit surprisingly different. The people  we meet showed mostly a remarkable proudness about their city, distinctly remarking  qualities of the city. For instant remarks about how proud they were about the nature  seemed like the strangest thing thinking of the heavy pollution in the area.   It became obvious that their sense of their place was very different than our perception  of their place. And therefore I found interest in how identity and sense of place or  belonging was created in the city of Nikel.     My intention in this text is to try to make it clearer how the Nikel situation are  constituted through the general belief, the socially transmitted identities and social  patterns, as of the narod and the dursha, the narrative ideas, the maintenance of cultural  reproduction of the situation, and by this understand something more of the identity,  and the meaning of the place. And how this is articulated.    Culture can be said comprises systems of shared ideas, systems of concepts and rules  and meanings that underlie and are expressed in the way humans live. In the end it is  about what humans learn, and not what they do and make, and how then are ideas  distributed and controlled through the structure of society?    To understand the situation in Nikel it is impossible without understanding more of the  Russian situation. And there fore I will start in the big general picture and I will outline  the meaning of the Russian narod and dursha, which is crucial to understand the making  of, and reproduction of identity in Russia. The constitution of a Russian identity that is  first and foremost in a national setting, but recently also in a local setting. These are  concepts important to understand in an attempt to understand the reproduction of past  and also basis for future development.                             
    •   Understanding the concept of Narod and Dusha    First I want to make clear the concept of narod.  Narod is a key word to understand the  Russian identity, although somewhat strange for outsiders to use.1 The word has a  profound meaning of the Russian people, folk, citizens of the nation – the “Russkii narod”.  It refers just as much to a mythical conceptual meaning as to the ethnic meaning.  Although used in different ways the overall meaning is “the heroic people” commonly  also “the victimized people”.  I will come back to this part about “victimization” later on.  The word also implies some qualities – “faithful, devout, brave, simple, modest, honest,  innocent, solid, strong, self‐sufficient, all enduring, long‐suffering, and much deserving.  Narod suggests an uncomplicated lifestyle, an unpretentious diet of potatoes, cabbage,  bread, sausage, apple, ‐ with the added succour of beer, vodka, and tobacco. It invokes  hard work, familiar closeness (and conflict), somewhat rough (though tender‐hearted!)  men and big, strong, strict but generous women. It implies a nation of people tied to  politics, expecting little but the worst from above”.2  The term therefore implies a highly symbolic value about what the Russian people is  about.  It also implies northerness. As the far cold north is often something set to  represent the true Russians. More positive values is also given to the northerners than  the southerness – the division north south varying. These positive values are commonly  the mentality and calmness, and the level of civilisation in the people ‐ More educated  and higher level of cultural knowledge. This is very generalised terms, but used by  Russians themselves in the interviews given to Hønneland(fortcoming2010, cap.3 and 4)  A common metaphor of the much suffering motherland (rodina), the history‐associated  fatherland, makes the “child” –narod. From the motherland which is associated with  nature, and the fatherland, associated with history becomes the narod from the spirit of  these two. The link between the individual and the narod is the “dusha”‐ the soul. The  dusha is what makes narod different from others. It refers to attitudes and lifestyle,  customs and traditions. It also means something about being a part of the common  rather than being on ones own.” Dusha also implies ability to feel deeply, first of all  nature, the beauty of nature, the oneness, your oneness with nature, and this whole  feeling of being one with the landscape means you are part of landscape, and the  landscape expresses the same kinds of feeling that you experience yourself. The Russian  people think they have soul and they doubt that anyone else has. Russians have dusha  because they are moral. Being moral means some kind of connection between individual  and community and nature…. you yourself are not that important, but you are important  through the community of which you are part, and through nature. Dusha is basically the  mechanism of involvement – associating oneself with a broader set – narod.”3      The impact of the narrative                                                             1 p.27 ”Russian Talk” – Nancy Ries describe the difficulties to use by her in a social  setting.  2 p.28, ”Russian Talk” – I am using Nancy Ries description of the narod because her  studies presentes in this book  is renowned and accredited.  3 p.30, ”Russian Talk”  
    • Another concept important to take into account is the concept of narratives. Narratives  can be defined as the units of meaning that creates the frames form which experience is  experienced.  It is through narratives stories are analysed and given their meaning,  which again creates value or sets of value. In particular this gives stories and storytelling  its profound meaning in different settings.  And here the maintenance of the symbolic  hierarchy value and the set of personal narratives serve as the ground for people to  perceive and promote themselves. “It is through narrativity that we come to know,  understand and make sense of the social world, and it is through narratives and  narrativity that we constitute our social identities”.4    Identity in it self is a complex question so here I will just discuss some aspects, and not  the full outline of the ideas of identity. A general interest is to define what captures the  essence of peoples self‐conception, what constitutes their self‐conception.   General European perceptions of identity have changed due to the changes in the  constitution of borders.   We can no longer view identity as unitary, fixed and given by an individual’s nationality.  Identity has come to be viewed as a relation rather than a possession, a quality rather  than categorical pertaining to persons as such. Identities are emergent and constructed  (rather than fixed and natural), contested and polymorphic (rather than unitary and  singular). And interactive and process‐like (rather than static and essence‐like.)5 Others  have argued this description and concluded differently, like Goff and Dunn(2004b)6 ;  “…Identities are fluid, but not constantly changing. Identities are relational, but the effect  of the process of othering differs according to the situation. Likewise, the propensity of  individuals to move back and forth between multiple identities varies with the context.  ´Even though identity is a social construction, it is not whatever we want it to be. A  limited reserve of discursive resources constraints the ways in which identities evolve  (…)” 7  The micro‐scale narratives/stories can be family relations, and the macro‐scale can be  the national stories and myths. The social frame that within which individuals define  their self‐identification… In this we are born and learn to reproduce to a certain extent  these stories and therefore narratives that constitutes self. Hoe then the individual  identity is created is how one is able to use the different sets of narratives, stories and  fragments and create a life story that make sense to us, as unique selves.      Correlation with identity and narratives as of today’s Nikel.    Narratives decisive for the relations in Nikel are amongst others narratives about power  structures – everybody is waiting for someone to tell them to do something. It is difficult  to take advantage of whatever initiative there is because the common attitude is that  either someone else is providing it or it is too hard to do any thing…The level of negative  thinking is high.  About creation of different identities and meanings of narratives there is a great deal to  be discussed.  But now I will continue to see how these basic concept correlates with the                                                           4 Hønneland referes in texst to Somers 1994, p.606  5 Hønneland referes in texst to Lapid 1996, p.8 for this description  6 ref. in Hønnelands texst.  7Hønneland(forthcomming2010) s 6  also there ref. to Goff and Dunn2004c, p.244) 
    • situation in Nikel. Through different interviews and unformal conversation some of  these basic principles have shown their implications on todays Nikel and the people  living there.   I will present here only my extract from the interviews and conversations.   Amongst the most frequently discussed topics is the identity and sense of belonging  issue.     Case 1: Denis – 30.  Educated in Moskow and now working as a programmer for the  Pechenga newspaper and the Barentsobserver.   He has initiated a numerous Internet based forums for discussions and online meeting  places for and about Nikel. The responses though have been variable. And now he is  struggling his own frustration for lack of action in public and private sector in Nikel.  He has expressed his concern for the future of Nikel as well as his hopes.   He currently lives in Nikel, at home with his parents; he would like to stay but is  uncertain whether he has to go somewhere else if nothing happens.    “I also thought so, but I also had some hidden feelings and on the distance they became  clearer. After this I got interested in the history of the place and saw that it carries a  charge deep inside. And now it's interesting for me to reveal it. But you can consider I'm  enchanted by Sámi magic”       Me: just read Medvedevs speech from September ‐ read it?  Denis; no, I usually don't read our officials     Me; just kind of interesting to see ‐ even though maybe not possible to put to much into  it. He said some interesting things about the need for a stronger civic society and need  for more initiative from people in general, and strengthening of the self‐governing and  local governments.  Denis; yes he did, something like that but he also could say we fly to Mars in a year    Me; So no much believing in any "change" hm?  Denis; why are interesting in this speech?  why are you...  let's we do changes, not them in Kremlin  They are masters just in the bad changes   Moscow is too far from almost every single place in Russia    Me; no not particularly, just happens to come across it. Just interesting to try get a feel  of the different levels of government    Denis; Yeah, I know.  Of course, maybe it's useful when you deal with bureaucrats  you can rely on the words of PRESIDENT( ironic)    Me; I just think it is interesting whatever I come over at this stage  Denis; you know, it's situation like when you can not do the real things only what is left  is to speak  by the way Barents cooperation is the same 
    • Finns don't say so frequently word "cooperation" but their real cooperation with  Russia is hardly less than Norwegian's    Me; Just about widening my general knowledge ‐ what ever has been said and done‐  and I know it is not a full "thought" to it.....  Denis; sure!  It's important to know what politics say  it's necessary, but not enough as mathematicians say   ..and what they do... is two different things...  and real actions  take for instance regulated access areas all across the country  or lack of tourist multivisum to Russia  and they all the way talk about developing the tourism as alternative source of state's  income  if they not only talked but also did ‐ you can move freely somewhere to Rybachyy just on  the next day you arrived to Kirkenes  I would say it's like anode and cathode  Together they could generate Barents energy  Two different areas so close ‐ two different electrodes    I do get the point to it..  Then the idea about transborder things must be also obscure  And about cooperation between two differently developed nation too    Me; but do u mean they are the same or different ‐ in that case what you mean is the  contribution from the Nikel side ‐ to create the energy?  Denis; they are different, sure  That’s an essence of the trick  Why cross border system functions better than two unconnected system at both sides  of the border taking in total  I'm not sure, but people say so, that it should work  The text is not about us ‐ that is about folk in Murmansk. Murmansk is not Pas. Pas is not  Murmansk! When mixing these places, we, people of the sacred lands of Eastern Pasvik,  feel the same that Catalans feel being called Spaniards! :‐))))      Case 2:  Mischa – 30´s. Working fulltime as a translator for the Barentsobserver. He is a  man of much knowledge about the city of Nikel and has also been used as a guide. From  his opinion Nikel is doomed to go under, even if he would not like it to.  He has always  lived in Nikel and would like to forever live there. He says Nikel is one of the best cities  to raise children.    Case 3: Anya – 23. Working as an elevator operator in the mines. Lives with her  boyfriend in an apartment in the building block called “the Chinese wall”.  She was portrayed in Ola Solvangs book about Nikel when she was a child.     Case 4: Tatjana – 28. Lived in Nikel from she were 6 till 16. Then she left for  St.Petersburg to get education. She now works in Amsterdam in a big well‐known  architecture office.  She recalls her childhood in Nikel as a happy and good childhood, 
    • and as a youth there was a lot of clubs to hang out in. But it everybody went away to get  educated, in Nikel there was only the smelter and the mines. She says they learned ” If  you want to have a perspective, you don’t have a local perspective”.  Her most important place from Nikel was the art school, which she feels was a good and  it was very much based on a human approach, not a technical one. This school is the  reason she is an architect today. The art school; this school is an incredible positive thing  in this environment. ”It is very special to me” she expresses. The reason is that the  school has a human approach and not a technical one. And it played an important role in  teaching humanity – realities and relations. This made us think very positive about the  surroundings (?). Advocating for local area. “Every winter we went to Prirechny to  draw”  In order to get an education one had to move out of Nikel. In the old soviet one was  secured a job if you had an education.  There was an emphasis on the fellowship – to work together. And there was Norwegian  artists invited and we had workshops. The good thing was the way there was lack of  formalities – no pressure, just enthusiasm. Learn by enthusiasm, not by pressure.    To day there is a lot of drugs – it is sad.  For me it is quite a contrast. My childhood was quite nice there. But we learned” If you  want to have a perspective, you don’t have a local perspective”     “It’s a part of Russian tragedy – we always measure up against others; I say – forget  about running after someone else!”    The Russian self‐identity is a hybrid between European and Asian, and maybe that is  why it is a country of contradictions?    For Russians it is difficult to come to this step of what is our identity, we are still  handling the aftermath of Soviet, and all the bad stories from that time.  But we have to  be happy and proud and know how to use the history. There is many processes going on  at the moment – some rapid changes.    My mother is a teacher; her teachers colleagues – I ask my self, ‐ are they identifying  themselves as from Nikel? But it is a general tragedy – nobody wants to identify them  self as from different corners.   But Ukraina and Georgia – strong identity and pride that they did not loose during the  soviet suppression.    Nikel was nothing – then grow up because of factory. People from everywhere came to  have a good life until the 90´s. They had 60 days of holiday in the south, good social  conditions and high wages, bigger apartments.   Generation after war came to build the city, people of 60´s. They wanted to build new  and good, identified by something general – not local.    Petrosavodsk is a good example of revitalization of city. Amongst things they have a  triennale  ‐ shows they are secure about own identity and have pride.    I’m a nomad – I have no home but is from everywhere, and I am totally fine with it. But  maybe not everyone can do it.  
    •   Nikel should get a perspective, for centrality. Now only if you have a job or not.  People going back because of tragedy and sad stories – back to security at parents.  A friend meeting man at conference in Moscow – he came to Nikel to bring her to  Moscow. Now she lived there. She worked with ecology. It’s a problem they are loosing  good people.    Me: Local initiative Ecology?    Things are going on, but nobody knows of it!    There is a general misbelieve – you only see Moscow. Complete miscommunication!    People are doing things only for themselves, because they think nobody cares, it does  not matter.    In my days there was also a good dancing school. But the teacher went away  Nikel is a small city, but it could do anything at high level.    The pioneer building    The plan of the city was different, now it is chaotic. Before the placement was done with  a purpose.     Of course now I percept things differently. Before I crossed the streets and I knew  people in this and this building.   Now people are closed in a circle, thinking everything is bad. But as long people are  living there you can do something!    The youth have no will to do anything. How to motivate? There is no interest – that is the  general mood.  I remember a lot of underground things going on when I was young. In cellars all around  the city.    “Fortune sent you to me, me and you – and it is strange, I really believe in what you are  saying – I understand you, I absolutely see the potential”.    I Russia I can see people really enjoying being together. Now people/things have  changed. Now there is more possibilities and also more competition.    The exchange between Kirkenes and Nikel?  Do people know the local history? Maybe that will give perspective( for changes)    Nature is special.  I realize more and more the impact of landscape on the identity. Nature is sensitive,  changeable. You grow up in it, you take it as it is –it makes a difference.  There are difficulties with the darkness in the winter. Back then, the factory was lighting  the city so hard I didn’t really realize how dark it was before 90´s when the factory had  bad economy. My parents are suffering. 
    • That is why people sit at home.    People are sort of cut of from nature. The only connection is the Dachas.      Case 5: Veronika Matsak – pensioner. Former director of the museum in Nikel. Invited to   Barentspektakel to take part in the border stories seminar.  She came to Nikel in 1959. And all that time there is good examples of friendship across  the border.   In 1944 when Petsamo became Sovjet and the finish rule was over the people was  evacuated to Finland. From all over Sovjet people was imported to build Nikel. Our  perception of Norway was of a fantastic country, beautiful nature and stories. They  knew all the names of the great sons of Norway. But it was very superficial knowledge –  so many years we lived so close, but had so little knowledge of each other.   With the first visits from Norway to Russia it was very strict. The border commissioner  was there and it was very closed.  That was the first meeting we had, it was very modest  steps, very polite and correct.   We were warned every time there was a new visit – and we planed what we wanted to  show, like god a hostess will do.  Off course we wanted to show the best we had.   I will say the first visits form women was what really started ”melting the ice” in the  border zone.   We showed our schools, kindergartens, culture etc. It melted your harts and the  interaction became more like people to people.  I remember very well the nice busses that arrived to Nikel, we had never seen so nice  busses before.  The kids came from all over.  I remember very well how the Norwegians focused on the chimneys and the backyards,  and not the ”nice” streets. Also they focused on the kids with their hands stretched out.  We learned a lot about our selves through your pictures. We did not know, we did not  see because our press did not dear.  I will thank all the children in Nikel for playing a big role in opening the dissonance with  the people from Norway. They showed that one could develop despite the bad conditions in  Nikel.   We have come very fare since then. Many families have a strong friendship, and many  organizations have good collaboration. People to people relations.   (“The closest neighbour is better than the distant relative”)   We are on good way, instead of studying each other we are developing each other, and I  hope the big politics will not limit this.    Case 6: Male – pensioned miner. This fellow approached us as we walked along the streets.  He was one of the many men in Nikel who feels a need to “drink his sorrows away”.  He was  a nice fellow mostly, an explained how he had lived in Nikel for 32 years, and how this city  had brought him nothing but misery. He had been working in the mines of KGMG (he  proudly showed us the back of his jacket) but now he was living of the pension. He was  unhappy with his wife, and she was unhappy with him, and everything was miserable, this  he expressed in a highly dramatic way. In between this he apparently expressed some to be  considered rather rude remarks, which our translator refused to translate. His behaviour had 
    • some clear resemblances in the aspect of male identity and expression of victimization as a  common Russian genre8 and narod.            Conclusion    The people I have talked to and heard stories from have different experiences on the  town of Nikel, and they all have a individual approach to what Nikel is to them, and it  becomes clear in their descriptions about Nikel(or mine from theirs..) Almost all of my  contacts all have good connection with foreigners, and have no objections of speaking  with me. When it comes to others, there is a certain reluctance and suspiciousness.  The situation in Nikel is very complex and it is hard to get close to people in such a short  time. The short view on different perspectives on the city and their life in them anyhow  gives an idea. Some commonalities can be found in them. How they look on the  perspectives of the city, and the possibilities tells us something about what narrative  stories have been told, and are retold in these settings. In this way one is not able to  disrupt the negative spiral and yet again reproducing these stories.     During my interviews and conversations it have become apparent that the concept of  narod and dusha is somewhat relevant to the creation of identity today.  The particular  term narod and dursha is not used but the qualities implied in them are very much so.  What is interesting is to see how there is one or more mechanisms blocking further  development of identity in Nikel. One have to either accept the given identity – which is  very much like the proper Russian narod, worker simple life, “suffering” in the north or  mostly (though hardly fully…) give it up and move away to find opportunities.                                                                                              8 Nancy Ries desribes this  in her capter 4/5.  Also the differences between male and  female expressions.  
    •   References:    ‐ “Russian Talk ‐ Culture and talk during perestroika”. Nancy Ries , 1997. Cornell  University Press.   ‐“Borderland Russians – Narrative, Identity and International Relations (draft)”. Geir  Hønneland(fortcomming 2010), Fridthjof Nansen Institute, to be published by Palgrave  Macmillan  2010.  ‐ http://www.sisoboern.dk/Litteratur_mv/Fortællinger/Hvad_er_narrativ_forskning.aspx   
    • A NIKEL PROJECT UNDERSTANDING CONSTITUTION OF IDENTITY IN NIKEL, A RUSSIAN INDUSTRIAL CITY - social antrophology INA BAKKA SEM-OLSEN BERGEN ARKITEKTSKOLE DIPLOM 2010
    • How is identity and sense of place or belonging created and maintained in the city of Nikel? Constituted through general belief, the socially transmitted identities and social patterns, as of the narod and the dursha, the narrative ideas, the maintenance of cultural reproduction of the situation, and by this understand something more of the identity, and the meaning of the place, and how this is articulated. Culture can be said comprises systems of shared ideas, systems of concepts and rules and meanings that underlie and are expressed in the way humans live. In the end it is about what humans learn, and not what they do and make, and how then are ideas distributed and controlled through the structure of society?
    • - MONO - CITY - SHRINKING - STRUCTURAL CHANGES - STANDARD OF BUILDINGMASS The situation, The physical city, and The social city
    • Concept of Narod and Dusha Narod is a key word to understand the Russian identity, The word has a profound meaning of the Russian people, folk, citizens of the nation – the “Russkii narod”. It refers just as much to a mythical conceptual meaning as to the ethnic meaning. -“the heroic people” commonly also “the victimized people”. It implies some qualities – “faithful, devout, brave, simple, modest, honest, innocent, solid, strong, self-sufficient, all enduring, long- suffering, and much deserving. Narod suggests an uncomplicated lifestyle, an unpretentious diet of potatoes, cabbage, bread, sausage, apple, - with the added succour of beer, vodka, and tobacco. It invokes hard work, familiar closeness (and conflict), somewhat rough (though tender-hearted!) men and big, strong, strict but generous women. It implies a nation of people tied to politics, expecting little but the worst from above”. It also implies northerness. As the far cold north is often something set to represent the true Russians. More positive values is also given to the northerners than the southerness – the division north south varying. These positive values are commonly the mentality and calmness, and the level of civilisation in the people - More educated and higher level of cultural knowledge.
    • A common metaphor of the much suffering motherland (rodina), the history-associated fatherland, makes the “child” –narod. From the motherland which is associated with nature, and the fatherland, associated with history becomes the narod from the spirit of these two. The link between the individual and the narod is the “dusha”- the soul. The dusha is what makes narod different from others. It refers to attitudes and lifestyle, customs and traditions. It also means something about being a part of the common rather than being on ones own.” Dusha also implies ability to feel deeply, first of all nature, the beauty of nature, the oneness, your oneness with nature, and this whole feeling of being one with the landscape means you are part of landscape, and the landscape expresses the same kinds of feeling that you experience yourself. The Russian people think they have soul and they doubt that anyone else has. Russians have dusha because they are moral. Being moral means some kind of connection between individual and community and nature…. you yourself are not that important, but you are important through the community of which you are part, and through nature. Dusha is basically the mechanism of involvement – associating oneself with a broader set – narod.”
    • The narrative Units of meaning that creates the frames form which experience is experienced. It is through narratives stories are analysed and given their meaning, which again creates value or sets of value. In particular this gives stories and storytelling its profound meaning in different settings. The maintenance of the symbolic hierarchy value and the set of personal narratives serve as the ground for people to perceive and promote themselves. Capture the essence of peoples self-conception, what constitutes their self-conception. We can no longer view identity as unitary, fixed and given by an individual’s nationality. Identity has come to be viewed as a relation rather than a possession, a quality rather than categorical pertaining to persons as such. Identities are emergent It is through narrativity that we come to know, understand and constructed (rather than fixed and natural), and make sense of the social world, and it is through contested and polymorphic (rather than unitary and narratives and narrativity that we constitute our social singular). And interactive and process-like (rather identities”. than static and essence-like.) “…Identities are fluid, but not constantly changing. Identities are relational, but the effect of the process of othering differs according to the situation. Likewise, the propensity of individuals to move back and forth between multiple identities varies with the context. ´Even though identity is a social construction, it is not whatever we want it to be. A limited reserve of discursive resources constraints the ways in which identities evolve (…)” (Goff and Dunn(2004b)) The micro-scale narratives/stories can be family relations, and the macro-scale can be the national stories and myths. The social frame that within which individuals define their self-identification… In this we are born and learn to reproduce to a certain extent these stories and therefore narratives that constitutes self. How then the individual identity is created is how one is able to use the different sets of narratives, stories and fragments and create a life story that make sense to us, as unique selves.Identity an
    • Narratives decisive for the relations in Nikel are amongst others narratives about power structures – everybody is waiting for someone to tell them to do something. It is difficult to take advantage of whatever initiative there is because the common attitude is that either someone else is providing it or it is too hard to do any thing…The level of negative thinking is high. Denis – 30. Educated in Moskow and now working as a programmer for the Pechenga newspaper and the Barentsobserver. - initiated Internet based forums for discussions and online meeting places for and about Nikel. - frustration for lack of action in public and private sector in Nikel. - concerned for the future of Nikel as well as his hopes. - uncertain whether he has to go somewhere else if nothing happens. Tatjana – 28. Lived in Nikel from she were 6 till 16. Then she left for St.Petersburg to get education. She now works in Amsterdam in a big well-known architecture office. ” If you want to have a perspective, you don’t have a local perspective”. “It’s a part of Russian tragedy – we always measure up against others; I say – forget about running after someone else!” Nature is special! I realize more and more the impact of landscape on the identity. Nature is sensitive, changeable. You grow up in it, you take it as it is –it makes a difference. There are difficulties with the darkness in the winter. Back then, the factory was lighting the city so hard I didn’t really realize how dark it was before 90´s when the factory had bad economy.
    • Veronika Matsak – pensioner. Former director of the museum in Nikel. Invited to Barentspektakel to take part in the border stories seminar. We were warned every time there was a new visit – and we planed what we wanted to show, like god a hostess will do. Off course we wanted to show the best we had. I remember very well how the Norwegians focused on the chimneys and the backyards, and not the ”nice” streets. Also they focused on the kids with their hands stretched out. We learned a lot about our selves through your pictures. We did not know, we did not see be- cause our press did not dear. Male – pensioned miner. This fellow approached us as we walked along the streets. He was one of the many men in Nikel who feels a need to “drink his sorrows away”. He was a nice fellow mostly, an explained how he had lived in Nikel for 32 years, and how this city had brought him nothing but misery. He had been working in the mines of KGMG (he proudly showed us the back of his jacket) but now he was living of the pension. He was unhappy with his wife, and she was unhappy with him, and everything was miserable, this he expressed in a highly dramatic way. In between this he apparently expressed some to be considered rather rude remarks, which our translator refused to translate. His behaviour had some clear resemblances in the aspect of male identity and expression of victimization as a common Russian genre and narod.
    • Different experiences on the town of Nikel, and individual approach to what Nikel is to them. Almost all of my contacts all have good connection with foreigners, and have no objections of speaking with me. When it comes to others, there is a certain reluctance and suspiciousness. The short view on different perspectives on the city and their life in them anyhow gives an idea. Some commonalities can be found in them. How they look on the perspectives of the city, and the possibilities tells us something about what narrative stories have been told, and are retold in these settings. In this way one is not able to disrupt the negative spiral and yet again reproducing these stories. The concept of narod and dusha is somewhat relevant to the creation of identity today. The particular term narod and dursha is not used but the qualities implied in them are very much so. What is interesting is to see how there is one or more mechanisms blocking further development of identity in Nikel. One have to either accept the given identity – which is very much like the proper Russian narod, worker simple life, “suffering” in the north or mostly (though hardly fully…) give it up and move away to find opportunities.