Home    Number 4, 2019

Calling upon the State: “Illegal” Gold-Mining in the Russian Far East

[Prizyvaia gosudarstvo: nelegal’naia zolotodobycha na Dal’nem Vostoke]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150006190-9

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 21.11.2018

Accepted: 22.07.2019

About author(s)

Tatiana N. Zhuravskaia | https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1147-1169 | wellshy@mail.ru | Economic Research Institute of Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (153 Tikhookeanskaya Street, Khabarovsk, 680042, Russia)

Natalia P. Ryzhova | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7911-7364 | n. p.ryzhova@gmail.com | Yugra State University (16 Chekhova Str., Khanty-Mansiysk, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug — ​Yugra, 628012, Russia)


state discourse, informal practices, illegal gold mining, black diggers, gold fever, Russian Far East


Authors review the discourse of modern practices of “illegal” gold mining in one of the remote settlementsin the Russian Far East. The paper attempts to deconstruct the state as a self-sufficient institution or anautonomous actor with the right to regulate, govern, and use violence against the people living in a certain area. It is shown that the bankruptcy of the local economic mainstay and the feeling of “non-presence”of the state in the everyday life of the locals, with natural resources being available, however, did not result in the loss of the state control over the locality under study. This is manifested through the choice of categories employed to designate informal practices with the implicit reference to the state and the “normal” order — ​gold mining must be carried out under a strict state control as opposed to the “gold fever”. Authors consider the way an imaginary state acts through the discourse of practices “above” the boundaries of a local place. It is a cultural specificity of the construct of “state”. The article presents the results of aseries of field studies conducted between 2012 and 2017 in regions of the Russian Far East.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Khamovniki Foundation for the Support of Social Research [project no. 2016 009; 2017–2018] Russian Foundation for Basic Research, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100002261 [17-33-01057]


Zhuravskaia, T.N., and N.P. Ryzhova. 2019. Calling upon the State: “Illegal” Gold-Mining in the Russian Far East [Prizyvaia gosudarstvo: nelegal’naia zolotodobycha na Dal’nem Vostoke]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 29–44. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150006190-9

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