Maria Fedina

Urban areas are often perceived as non-compliant with Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and therefore seen as threatening for sustaining Indigenous identities. At the same time, the global urban Indigenous population keeps growing, in some areas already surpassing the rural one. In this setting, the concept of indigeneity and particularly territoriality as its vital component should be addressed critically.

In this contribution I aim to investigate how Komi residents of the capital city perceive themselves in urban space and what meanings they attribute to being a Komi urban resident. I do it by referring to their personal and autobiographical stories told to me during my fieldwork performed in Syktyvkar from October 2021 to February 2022.

I argue that urban Komi employ two major strategies in sustaining their identities in the city. Some of them continue perceiving themselves as products of rurality and therefore maintain their Kominess by continuously returning to the rural areas and searching for rural elements in the city. Others maintain and develop their Komi identity by exploring new possibilities the city may offer and, when doing so, they contrapose rurality to modernity and innovation. In either way, urban Komi residents are regarded, particularly by their rural counterparts, as multifaceted actors combining rural and urban implications of themselves. Being at large connected with their rural counterparts, resilience and actual decision-making power of urban Komi community is therefore closely related to the prosperity of all Komi people.

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