Sublimated products and other time management tools: transformations of Khanty reindeer herders' nutrition practices in the Polar Urals 

Rakhmanova L.Ia.


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2022, ¹ 1 (56)


              page 223234




The key contribution of this article is bridging the perspectives of anthropology of food, mobility studies and anthropology of time, unfolding through an ethnographic study of the dietary practices of the Khanty reindeer herders in the Shuryshkar Region of the Yamal Peninsula in the beginning of the 21st c. We focus on freeze-dried foods, ‘Doshirak’ — the brand name which became genericized in this environment, and the dialogue of these foods with fish and venison, depending on the modes of mobility and the season. The Khanty herder's diet as recently as 20–25 years ago included reindeer and fish, processed and stored in various forms. In summer, during the nomadic period, raw foods are unfeasible, and dried venison and salted fish become key nutrients. Fresh foods and sophisticated cooking can only be afforded at campsite. Mobility periods reduce the diversity and set technological limits for food choice. The process of cooking and eating is integrated into the per-minute plan of the day during migration: one needs to find lightweight meal that regains weight and volume with addition of water. This is how soluble noodles and mashed potatoes are introduced in the reindeer herders' diet during the migration period. Nutrition type reflects the trend towards the “fragmentation” of food resources into small portions, suitable for single meal in a narrow family circle. A brigade of related tents has different diets. Previously, the problem of storing a deer slaughtered for “collective nutrition” (“colpit”) was solved via distribution of meat to a wide social circle. Now whole reindeer is too large for a mobile and small family during migration. Thus, Doshirak has become a way to save and/or speed up time (a longer march during the day instead of boiling cereals), a way to autonomize the family/chum within the extended family and the reindeer herding brigade. At the same time, the phenomenon of Doshirak reflects the pattern of food alienation, unification of food trends. This trend also highlights the understudied discourse of the usefulness and danger of this food — not in terms of freshness/rotting, purity/pollution, but in terms of artificiality/naturalness of food, which raises the question of the “naturalness” of the consuming subject itself.

Keywords: Khanty reindeer herders, mobility, diet, energy economy, nutrition individualization, food temporality, Doshirak, Rollton.


Funding. The research was carried out at the expense of grant No. 19-78-10002 of the Russian Science Foundation 2019–2022 “Nutrition in the Russian Arctic: Resources, Technologies and Innovations”.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 16.12.2021

Article is published: 21.03.2022


Rakhmanova L.Ia., National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Soyuza Pechatnikov st., 16, St. Petersburg, 190121, Russian Federation, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the RAS, Universotetskaya nab., 3, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation, E-mail:,