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Abstract

The study of kinship has occupied a central role in anthropological scholarships for more than a hundred years. In the 1970s, after the deconstruction of kinship as the inherent logic of social structure, studies on kinship faced a number of new epistemological issues. Based on experiences gained during subsequent fieldworks in Yakutia, the author tackles a few of them in this article. Due to the legacy of Soviet-type ethnography in Yakutia, people even in the remotest villages usually have a firm idea of what anthropological fieldwork is about. Reflecting on his fieldwork strategies in Yakutia while studying local kin relations, the author argues that anthropologists should not neglect to consider the expectations local communities have of the goals and means of the fieldwork. In the case of kinship research in Yakutia, local communities are interested in reconstructing the vertical aspects of kin relations instead of unfolding horizontal relations for the anthropologist.

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The article demonstrates that similar actions and lifestyles of two individuals living in two villages of Yakutia (in Northeastern Siberia) evoke different attitudes in their own communities in accordance with the dissimilar social structures and communicative systems of the villages. The article focuses on the different ways the register of humour is activated and on the dissimilar assessments of extraordinary patterns of behaviour resulting in social embarrassment within the two communities. The case studies show that one of the protagonists of the paper, Konoohoi, is referred to as a funny guy about whom funny stories are circulated, whereas Lögöntöi is much more regarded as a strange person by his fellow villagers. The difference between the integrity of the communities (providing evaluative social talks of different characters in the settlements concerned) results in two different ways of dealing with the social embarrassment caused by extraordinary behaviours. In one of the villages the funny but disparaging anecdotes about such behaviour are embedded in the system of kin-group characterisation, whereas in the other one it would be regarded as more offensive (as a personal attack), since in this setting it is generally not allowed to expose shortcomings in public.

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Variable husbandry and changing climate

Cattle breeding and permafrost soil in Yakutia

Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
Author:
Csaba Mészáros

The author focuses on the changing perception and use of alaases (round shaped meadows in thermocarst depressions) in a Central-Yakutian village community under the effect of global climate change. Households of the local cattle-economy before the collectivisation used to be located at alaases and had used small and disperse hayfields. Subsequent economic reforms in the Soviet era, and the process of decollectivisation (in the 1990s) distanced villagers from alaases. Therefore knowledge on alaas ecotope in the village has radically diminished.

In the 21st century environmental changes have had negative effect on the local agriculture and economy. Increase in annual precipitation, and in mean annual temperature resulted in the rapid humidification of permafrost soil, and the degradation of hayfields. Three factors expose today agricultural production in the village to ongoing climatic changes: low level of selfdependency in agricultural production, undiversified production of unprocessed raw material, and the vanishing concepts of local spiritual ecology. The author argues that anthropological research can effectively contribute to the mitigation of losses in Sakha cattle economy by studying traditional methods of land use and the perception of environment.

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The aim of the present study is to demonstrate the usefulness of, and the lessons that can be learned from, a type of source that has been insufficiently analyzed and used to date — that is, the minutes of local councils, and of public hearings in particular. Data from 29 sets of minutes from four neighboring small settlements in the Hungarian-Slovenian border region (Apátistvánfalva, Kétvölgy, Kondorfa, and Orfalu) suggest that the use and inclusion in research of the text corpus that comprises the large available quantities of such sources can effectively supplement, although not replace, ethnographic fieldwork based on participant observation. At the same time, the examination of this text corpus, along with other internal sources belonging to the local public sphere, makes it possible to construct an image of the internal workings of a settlement and the dynamics of its power relations that would not otherwise be accessible for study.

Open access
Acta Oeconomica
Authors:
Judit Kapás
,
László Csaba
, and
Sándor Mészáros

(1)Douglass C. North: Understanding the Process of Economic Change (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005, 187 pp. - Reviewed by Judit Kapás), (2) Vladimir Mau: From Crisis to Growth (London: Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies, New series, No. 21, 2005, 305 pp. - Reviewed by László Csaba), (3) Imre Ferto: Agri-food Trade between Hungary and the EU (Budapest: Századvég, 2004, 257 pp. - Reviewed by Sándor Mészáros)

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Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
Authors:
Diána Vonnák
,
István Sántha
,
Tünde Lőrinczi
,
Csaba Mészáros
,
Tünde Turai
, and
Csaba Mészáros
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