Paper call: Engaging with treasures of the subsurface between extractivism and spiritualism, 20-23 July 2016

Dear colleagues

at this year’s European Association for Social Anthropology congress in Milano, we got a session accepted on extractive industries where we want to go beyond the usual social impacts of industry evidence – as important as this is. Acceptance of our session proposal was already a success, because there were WAY MORE session proposed than the organisers actually accepted.

You are warmly welcome to submit paper proposals to this session, from whereever field in the world you are. The conference is from 20-23 July 2016.

The deadline for submission of presentation abstracts is February 15, and for this purpose you need to go to the webpage of the panel:

Looking forward to many interesting submissions.

Short Abstract

Beyond the anthropology of oil and indigenous peoples, this session explores cultures of relating to the subsurface. Papers analyse the relation of different resource users’ engagement with resources, their worldview, their environment and how these relations influence resource extraction

Long Abstract

People’s corporeal, spiritual, and cultural engagement with subsurface resources are the subject of this session. Many indigenous people worldwide associate taboos, notions of death, darkness and dangers with the subsurface. On the other hand, human life – including indigenous life is dependent on the extraction of subsurface resources (most notably energy and mining). Underlying these processes is the worldview of extractivism (Acosta 2013), the idea that only through processes of extraction can resources become valuable and acquire meaning for humankind. The meaning of resources in extractivism is being used for the good of humans, whose goal is in turn ‘open up’ more untapped resources in a “big carbon” approach (Klein 2014). This is in stark contrast to many indigenous and local cosmologies where the underground is a sacred (albeit maybe dangerous) sphere that must be left in peace for the spirits. This session aims to overcome such a dichotomy by inviting papers on extractive industries focusing on the corporeality and spirituality of the resource(s), and on the lived experience of people living on top of subsurface resources. Rather than reifying the distinction between indigenous and incomer-people, or between traditional indigenous economies and extractive industries, we encourage papers to analyse the complex mutual influence between people’s cosmologies, their relation to the environment, their way of life and their way of relating to and extracting resources. In doing so, we hope to break new ground in the theoretical positioning of an anthropology of extractive industries and the environment.

Florian Stammler (University of Lapland) (chair)
Dmitri Funk (Moscow State University)
Vladislava Vladimirova (Uppsala University)
Hugh Beach (Uppsala University) (discussant)

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Extractive Industries – mining anthropology positions

Colleagues from Belgium advertise the following posts. The orientation is not Arctic but African – and not less fascinating for sure!

Five new positions opening at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Liège (ULg), Belgium:

2 Ph.D. fellowships in anthropology (4 years, full time) and 3 postdoctoral fellowships in social sciences (3 years, full time) to participate in a collective research project on the micropolitics of work in the mining companies of the Zambian and Congolese copperbelts (WORKINMINING).

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator programme.

Deadline for application: 13 March 2016

Starting date: 1 September 2016

For more information, please visit the following website:

– Vacancy 1: Two Ph.D. fellowships, 4 years, subproject on workers, Zambia or Congo

– Vacancy 2: Two postdoctoral fellowships, 3 years, subproject on trade unions, Zambia or Congo

– Vacancy 3: One postdoctoral fellowship, 3 years, subproject on the regulation of work, Zambia and Congo

The responsible professor for these posts is Benjamin Rubbers (

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Gatekeepers for fieldwork?

Our colleagues in Estonia will host a really interesting workshop this year – focusing on the role of gatekeepers. I think they are very right that these people are so important for any anthropologist (not only in the Arctic), but we know very little about them, yet we all have our own very diverse experiences with them. This workshop will be a great opportunity to discuss this underrepresented topic.

I just wonder, if the workshop organisers also could have thought to specifically invite scholars TOGETHER with “their” gatekeepers to this workshop? I remember that at the ICASS in Fairbanks one workshop did that, and I brought two friends from Yamal (Mikhail Okotetto and Alexandr Yuzhakov). And David Koester was there with his great gatekeeping friend from Kamtchatka (and many others whom my  bad memory 11 years ago remembers less well). And there they called this “research partnerships” rather than gatekeeping. I wonder if that term sounds more equal and respectful to both sides than gatekeeper? I’m happy to discuss some of this already here on the blog, maybe as an anticipation to get somebody going for the workshop in Tartu?

Here is the call for papers: Continue reading

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Pert Yaptik’s speech in the 54th reindeer herders’ day in Yar-Sale.The Yamal peninsula

Dear people, my Yamal Nenets people! Dear reindeer herders!

Listen, what I am going to say. Mostly I am speaking to you, young people who are living now on the tundra. As for me I am living on the tundra 70 years, and by myself I am 70 years old.


Now officials say that we will have less reindeer. Of course the number of reindeer is going down. In old times, one hundred years ago we did not have so much reindeer as we have now. At the same time we have on the neighborhood Russian culture and people and we cannot live without them. Continue reading

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PhD / MA course extractive industires at the world’s biggest hole

The Uarctic Arctic Extractive Industries PhD programme organises its Trubkamira_askYakutiaspring 2016 course, this time also open for M.A. students, eligibility for participation see below.

The course is hosted by the North Eastern Federal University, Yakutia, Russia, February 16-22, 2016. Yakutia in Siberia is not a cheap, but fascinating place to go. Interested students can apply for funding. Please express your interest to one of the Thematic Network leaders if you want to participate. Continue reading

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Meeting the world’s youngest farmers of native cattle in the world’s coldest inhabited place

During fieldwork for our Arc Ark research project, I walk the street in Sakkyryr, the central village of the Eveno-Bytantay Ulus (District) of the Sakha Republic, Yakutia, East Siberia. I stop to take a picture of two beautiful white cows as they feed on something I can’t quite identify, out on the street at minus 20 degrees

The cows Khatalyk and Dais feeding outdoors

The cows Khatalyk and Dais feeding outdoors

Continue reading

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