From subsistence economy to gambling: dealing with risk in nature and market in the Russian Far East
Hyun-Gwi Park (Chung-Ang University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how subsistence economy of domestic agricultural production has changed to risky business in the expanded market economy in the Russian Far East.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the way cultivators of watermelons deal with the risk brought about with neoliberal changes in market economy in the Russian Far East. The risk the cultivators are concerned with derives from the fluctuation in market price of watermelons, depending on different degree of harvest with annual climate change. The cultivators consider that the cultivation work is risky, because of the unpredictability in the nature (i.e. climate) and market. In response to this risk, a conjoined effect from market and climate, some watermelon cultivators engage with various tactics in order to mitigate those risks and the success or failure in administering these tactics is a crucial criterion for the personality and character of the cultivator in question. The most popular narrative employed in describing their responses to this insecurity is in the idiom of gambling. I consider the idiom of gambling as a subjective appropriation of market economy in contemporary Russia. Furthermore, I argue that we could see the symmetry between my ethnographic material on watermelon cultivation and other anthropological works on financial sectors such as on futures traders in Chicago, which might show a certain nature of market and human engagement with it.
Re-embedding the market economy: innovation, legacy, and techniques of intimate sociality after socialism