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Deities, entrepreneurs, and the state: sacred economy of mineral resources in South Siberia
- Dr. Veronika BELIAEVA-SACHUK
This paper discusses how local philosophies and cultural idioms of informal economy based on illegal gathering of mineral resources in South Siberia. The main focus of preplanned fieldwork is Okinskii and Tunkinskii regions of Buriatiia Republic (Eastern Saint mountainous chain). The methodological ground of this project takes its course from a conflict of approaches to regional mineral resources relevant to different interested groups and actors such as local administrators, both private and state mining industries, and local communities whose living strategies are based on small scale illegal extractions of mineral resources. The outlook of both state and private mining companies represents the pragmatic orientation on bowels of the earth. Local population, by way of contrast, has a different kind of view which is of a sacred nature: resources belong to mountainous deities who allow or not allow people to harvesting them. This local concept fulfills in a complex network of social hierarchies and reciprocity, where main actors are true owners of minerals - deities. Deities decide what and how to give to people in exchange for respect and rituals, therefore, people have to know how to be liked by supernatural powers and communicate with them successfully. Hence, minerals are not passive parts of the earth’s treasury; yet, they are active and sacred conglomerates of animated landscape.