Indigenous salmon fishers and reindeer herders living in villages on the Kamchatka peninsula in Northeast Siberia are reshaping Soviet era collective institutions in order to sustain traditional subsistence activities and secure access to common-pool resources. Following the collapse of the Soviet economy, many collectives have been privatized or liquidated, while others struggle on as government enterprises. These post-Soviet institutions coexist with “neotraditional” obshchina collectives formed from indigenous social movements. The institutional diversity emerging among contemporary collectives provides a unique opportunity to understand the role institutions play in mediating between individual interests and collective action. Drawing on research that identifies design principles of successful institutions, I assess the status of post-Soviet collectives in Kamchatka. Informed by the ways institutions and individual subjectivities are situated within social and ecological contexts, I explore how legacies of cooperation from the Soviet and pre-Soviet past continue to impact resource management, conservation, and development in the present.

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