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"A wild ride, a combination adventure story, ethnography, and personal journey"

By Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby
Journal of Folklore Research

willerslev_siberia coverOn the Run in Siberia is, simply put, a wild ride, a combination adventure story, ethnography, and personal journey that is compelling to read. The author, at the time a Ph.D. student in anthropology, was attempting to establish a fur cooperative for Yukaghir hunters along the Kolyma River in Siberia. The ultimate goal of this venture was to ensure that the hunters received a fair price for their sable furs on the international market. They could then avoid selling to the local regional monopoly Sakhabult, which would undercut the prices in exchange for the tools and fuel that it would not provide as promised. Willerslev paints a poignant picture of the history of the fur trade from the tsarist period to the present, and his idealistic wish to correct these old wrongs was a noble motive. However, he failed to assess the complexity of the situation on the ground, leading to an eventual warrant for his arrest and a flight into the northern Siberian wilderness in January of 2000, where he and a companion remained isolated in a hunting cabin for two months.

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On the Run in Siberia