Responsibility and authority in drinking: Arctic workshop of the University of Tartu, May 30-31, 2014

Ülikooli 16-102
Department of Ethnology

Last May we successfully held an international workshop on drinking alcohol as sociocultural practice in the Arctic. Our focus was on drinking both in indigenous and non-indigenous communities. The High North is notorious for the excessive use of alcohol and is associated primarily with the negative themes like alcohol related injuries, violence, suicide, decline of indigenous traditions, culture shock and other misfortunes that result from binge-drinking. Despite the scholarly take and state institutions’ efforts to limit alcohol use, most people still continue to drink, an activity associated not only with death and loss but also with leisure, pleasure and celebration. Alcohol is deeply embedded within many rituals such as the greeting of an honoured guest, a demonstration of masculinity or as a part of religious ceremony.  

Inspired by lively discussions at the last workshop, we decided to continue with the same topic from a slightly different angle. The aim is to widen both the scope as well as the geographic area. Our particular interest lies in the dimensions of morality and power related to the use of alcohol and the concept of (ir)responsibility both inside the communities as well as in the state discourse. 

For more information please contact: Aimar Ventsel,


Friday, May 30

10.00 Prof. Art Leete (University of Tartu): Welcoming words 
10.10 Aimar Ventsel (University of Tartu): Reflections on the first workshop

Chair: Laura Jamsja (University of Tartu)

10.30 Elianne Anemaat (University of Amsterdam): Balancing drinks: an ethnographic exploration of the alcohol controversy in Sweden
11.10 Igor Mikeshin (University of Helsinki): Rehabilitation through conversion and conversion through rehabilitation in the Baptist ministry

11.50–12.00  Coffee break

Chair: Margus Parts (University of Tartu)

12.00 Kirill Istomin (Komi Science Center, Russian Academy of Sciences):  “Vdrug sluchilsa s nim zapoi” (Suddenly a binge drinking episode has happened to him) –Locus of control, notion of responsibility, alcoholism and suicide in the Taz Region, Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug
12.40 Lyudmila N. Khakhovskaya (NEISRI FEB RAS, Magadan): Alcoholic Practice in the Koryak Community

13.30–15.00 Lunch (for registered participants only)

Chair: Keiu Telve (University of Tartu)

15.00 Vieda Skultans (University of Bristol): Competing aetiologies of alcoholism in Latvia
15.40 Laurent Legrain (Université Libre de Bruxelles): The Mongolian singer and the drunkard : explorations in an intricate web of connections
16.20 Yonatan Moges (Haramaya University)Alcohol drinking patterns among high school students in Ethiopia: a cross- sectional study

Saturday, May 31

Chair: Kalev Aasmäe (University of Tartu)

10.00 Andrei Tutorsky (Moscow State University): Drinking in the Russian North: from traditional to totalising liminality
10.40 Eleanor Peers (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology): The aesthetics of drinking at a Sakha Yhyakh: the Romantic shaman versus the merry patsan

11.20–11.40 Coffee break

Chair: Ode Alt (University of Tartu)

11.40 Anastasia A. Yarzutkina (NEISRI FEB RAS): Anthropological Aspects of Alcohol Trade in Microsocieties of Chukotka National Settlements
12.20 Tatiana Bulgakova (Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg): Alcohol in Nanai Shamanic Practices
13.00 Aimar Ventsel (University of Tartu): Yakutian identity: Folklore, politics, alcohol, food  

14.00–15.30 Lunch (for registered participants only)

Chair: Merilin Piipuu (University of Tartu)

15.30 Nikolai Vakhtin (European University at Saint Petersburg): Final discussion

Workshop is supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory CECT).