Which role does knowledge play for the identity of a people? The example of indigenous groups in the circumpolar North illustrates how symbols are seen as an exclusive heritage of a community and thus, how culture is understood as a set of tangible and intangible properties and becomes itself a property.
Indigenous groups are reshaping and claiming possession of symbols, not only in the Russian North and other circumpolar regions but worldwide. In addition to material objects and practices, knowledge itself is increasingly claimed as the exclusive heritage of a specific group, whose members then assert privileges on this basis. The commodification of culture as a form of property is a product of complex processes of identity construction. Native groups in the circumpolar North, although sharing similar natural environments, have experienced very different political histories. This book explores the consequences of this variation for the ways in which culture is nowadays celebrated, but also manipulated and reified. The main focus is on Siberia, but the studies will also be of interest to all those following the theoretical and practical debates concerning three key concepts of contemporary anthropology: culture, property and indigeneity.