University of Vienna, Austria
Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI)
extractive industry, mobility, long-distance commute work (FIFO), place attachment, actor-network theory, Circumpolar North
This article examines ways in which workers and the people around them become enmeshed with oil and gas resources, the extractive industry and the social and geographical space of the Russian Far North: in particular, the Yamal-Nenets and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Districts (YNAO and KMAO). It highlights how both the local workforce and the long-distance commuters who travel back and forth from all over Russia develop strong attachments to the social and economic meaning and symbolism of oil and gas. New labour conditions and a new configuration of the labour market have emerged in the context of privatization and out-sourcing in the last two decades. These changes have created new certainties and uncertainties for the future in a region that until now has been conceived as harsh, but stable, and as conferring both prosperity and privilege on those who can cope with the extreme conditions. This study is based on ethnographic long-term fieldwork in YNAO and KMAO.