Reindeer, Rodina and reciprocity. Kinship and property relations in a Siberian village
(Halle studies in the anthropology of Eurasia 7)
Münster: Lit Verlag 2005
367 pp., Euro 29.90; ISBN 3-8258-8047-8

##Kin-based social networks are the main focus of this study of a hunter-herder community in the northwest of the Republic of Sakha, Russian Federation. Ventsel gives a clear account of the formal organizational changes which have taken place since the demise of socialism and shows how informal relations help local people to cope with increased insecurity, both inside and outside formal structures. Documenting the strategies used to extend kinship, the author draws attention to their relevance for understanding the new system of property relations... It also contributes to the wider field of herder-hunter studies by showing how this combination of roles could persist throughout the Soviet era to the present day... Kinship emerges in this book as a structure that does much more than organize household and familial relations and land use. It serves to link different modes of production and also different regions and social groups... Ventsel shows that domestic reindeer have multiple roles and meanings: they can be transacted as gifts, some become working animals, many are made objects of differentiated usufruct rights in accordance with the norms and practices of the local communities... Ventsel demonstrates the continued importance of pre-Soviet norms, e.g. concerning reciprocity, but his study also shows that indigenous traditions have incorporated Soviet social values, some of which have persisted in the postsocialist era... This study also addresses... contemporary mechanisms of social control at community level... here too tha vacuum left by a diminishing state has been filled in part by kinship networks. Ventsel explores local understandings of crime and punishment in the context of property relations and control over the means of coercion.##

Keywords: kinship in Siberia, reciprocity among hunter-herders, hunter-herders, herders, socialism and tradition, reindeer herders, postsocialist era