Identity and Regional Culture: the Case of the Pomor people in Arkhangel’sk region, Russia

Report from Anna Pyzhova, Master Programme in Indigenous Studies, University of Tromsø.

Financial support to the project:

“Identity and Regional Culture: the Case of the Pomor people in Arkhangel’sk region, Russia”.


The current research was conducted in Arkhangel’sk region which is located in the north of the European part of Russia.

The project mainly focuses on the political and cultural issues of ethnic identity of unrecognized, small-numbered people of the northern-west part of Russia – Pomor people (Pomory). Pomor people are Russian –speaking settlers and their descendants live on the White Sea coast. It is also a term of self-identification for the descendants of Russian, primarily Novgorodian, settlers of the Russian North, living on the White Sea coasts and adjoining territories. The traditional Pomor livelihoods are based on the sea including hunting, whaling, fishing.

Pomor culture is rather divers and we can find a lot of distinctive features which are not common for the rest of the Russians living in the middle and southern part of the country. On the other hand some elements of the Pomor culture often taken as a part of Russian.

By using the case of Arkhangel’sk region and Pomors I try to figure out how new identities are being formed and what social and political mechanism is laid below the creation of multiply identities. I also discuss the problem of official registration and legal implementation of dual identity by the Russian state.


The main data for this research was collected in Arkhangel’sk and Arkhangel’sk region which is situated in the north of the Europen part of Russia. My fieldwork combined different methods to analyze both written and oral sources. There were  semi-structured interviews and interview with key informants, work local libraries, analysis of written texts in local and nationals newspapers and magazines. I also used printed mass media sources to read on interviews  of leader of local indigenous  movements to follow their positions on researched questions. Moreover, in local mass media it is not difficult to find data which included opinions and statements about researched problems that representatives of different social groups are expressing.

In carrying out my fieldwork I had an opportunity to interview 20 people. All my informants were divided into three groups: a) Citizens of the Arkhangel’sk region of different age categories (between 21 and 75 years of age) and different social and ethnic backgrounds; b) Representatives with an academic background (local university); c) Representatives of Pomor ethno-political movement and associations in Arkhangel’sk.

During the conversations I used the interview guide with questions prepared beforehand. Almost all my informants stated that they felt my project was an important and significant one. So it encouraged me to keep working on my project even twice hard.


I wish to thank The Centre for Sami Studies for their help in covering my travel expenses. This funding gave me an opportunity to  spend  seven weeks carrying my fiend research in Russian which is not cheap country to live and to complete my fieldwork successfully.




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