This is dedicated to a long term and very good friend, Konstantin Ochepkov, who passed away in Siberia way too early yesterday, just a little over 50 years old. His body was not able to retain victory over covid-19. I have known Kostya (how most of us called him) since I first came to Yamal in the late 1990s, when he lived in the then small village of Yar-Sale, the administrative centre of the Yamal Peninsula.
Just found out from the local news that in the Novyi Urengoy hospital two Nenets elders survived covid-19 and recovered from pneumonia, at the age of more than 100 years! These elders are so tough! I have also had the honour of meeting quite many people over 100 years old in the tundra particularly during our oral history project, who lived most of their lives with minimal imported stuff: eating mostly meat and fish, bread and tea. Little sugar, being outdoors 24/7 in Yamal, or in the chum, which in terms of fresh air is basically also outdoors:) . This shows that a lifestyle like that is perfectly healthy for the human body, much more so than a life in towns, let alone apartment blocks in skyscrapers… I dedicate this entry to all elders friends I have encountered throughout my field trips since the 1990s, and thank them for their openness, cooperation and their teachings.
Dear readers, the University of Lapland offers four full-time PhD positions in an open call. So basically any topic in Arctic Social Sciences go. I would very much hope that we get many really good candidates from Arctic Anthropology to these jobs, and can fill some of these positions with anthropologists. The positions are probably tied to moving to Rovaniemi, full or at least part time. Please read the job ad here and hopefully compose a good application. If any interested anthropology candidates have background questions they can contact Florian Stammler too.
In spring we were proud to host the world’s first anthropological PhD defence in english by a Nenets colleague, Roza Laptander. Now we are happy that she got her first postdoc employment in the big EU Charter project that looks at biodiversity changes, reindeer herding and the climate. We continue working with Roza in work package three of that project, and in this function she shared thoughts on socio-linguistic research, the Yamal Nenets and her work on silence and stories in a video, which you can watch here.
Listening to the presentation of Ms Kanae from the Japanese cabinet office at the Japan-Finland Joint Committee meeting on Cooperation in Science and Technology, I was impressed how human social evolution as a concept continues to play such a significant role even in concrete decision making. Japan accepted a holistic radical development plan called society 5.0 which bases on the idea of human evolution since the early hunter-gatherer societies to the future.
According to the presentation of Ms Kanae, the distinctive feature of society 5.0 is how cyberspace is integrated with physical space in a sophisticated way. And how economic growth is reconciled with resolution of social issues, which was not as high on the agenda in the previous social development models. The aim is a “human-centered and inclusive society” . The Japanese government plans to work towards this with what they call the “Moonshot Research and Development Programme “. It consists of seven goals, the first of which being mainly about well-being, namely ” Realization of a society in which human beings can be free from limitations of body, brain, space, and time by 2050″.
I liked the unconventional way in which a government official presented this vision of their society of the future, where they want to work towards creating conditions where “everyday life is happy and fun”!
This makes me think that with the prominent position of happiness and fun not only purposeful and eaudaemonic notions, but also hedonistic notions of well-being play an important role in the society of the future. This is probably also very good news for young people, who in our current research project have emphasized the significance of opportunities to enhance the fun-aspect of life in the North, as particularly Lukas Allemann and Ria Adams shall emphasize in their forthcoming publications.
This time Markku continues his loyalty to us in the North and comes on Friday 30 October to Rovaniemi for screening his most recent film, “ANERCA-, BREATH OF LIFE“. The screening itself is in the Rovaniemi cinema BioRex at 16:30. But before that we have the honour to meet with Markku and his colleague, Juha Elomäki, for an hour, at 15:00, in the Thule room in the Arctic Centre. Due to covid-19 we cannot invite everybody, but a limited number of people to this event. If you want to come and you are not a member of the anthropology team in Rovaniemi, please write a short note that you intend to come, to fstammle(at)ulapland.fi , so we can keep track of the numbers of people (also for cooking enough coffee:))
Here some background about the film, which is a co-production between father and son – Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio:
ANERCA-, BREATH OF LIFE (Finland 2020) 86 min, JURY PRIZE RÉGION DE NYON (CHF 10’000): MOST INNOVATIVE FEATURE FILM
A history of conquests and land exploitation we never heard of. A film where ethnography is looking for a new mesmerizing language, giving us the complexity of reality.
A narrative film about the world of people living in the Arctic, their situation as it is right now.
The film progresses through the power of music, dance, performance and depiction of everyday life. Gaining your daily sibsistence, the ordinary life is the central source for music and other kinds of selfexpression. It is life itself breathing.
Markku Lehmuskallio has devoted the majority of his films to the indigenous people of the Arctic Circle, co-directed with Anastasia Lapsui, his Nenets partner. In Anerca, Breath of Life co-created with his son Johannes, the Finnish filmmakers set off to discover, among others, the Chukchi, Inuit, and Sami peoples, who have had to learn to live, from Russia to Alaska, on territories whose borders are redefined by white conquerors in the name of a deadly ideology of progress. Bringing together testimonies, archives, sung or danced performances caught on camera, the two directors are not exploring the traditional lifestyles of these nomad communities—in the manner of Flaherty and the seminal Nanook of the North—mistreated by predatory policies that have sought to deny their irreducible difference, but what they call a “vital breath”. Their poetic and contemporary ethnography focuses much more on the inner world of these peoples, inseparable from forms of existence shaped over time, like so many seeds in a shared imagination that continues to animate bodies and spirits. (Text by Emmanuel Chicon)
This initiative sounds very promising. I think we would need a publication that explores anthropologically the specifics of gender organisation in Arctic societies, not only in villages but also the tundra / taiga as well as towns and cities.
The podium discussion “Current Challenges and Future Perspectives of Arctic Youth: Rural Areas and LGBTQI+ Communities” will take place on 20 October, 15:00-16:30 GMT
Public defence of the doctoral dissertation by blog contributor Lukas Allemann on 15 Oct 2020
Our team member and periodic blog contributor Lukas Allemann examines in his thesis people’s experiences of Soviet-time, state-initiated displacement and (re)emplacement on the Kola Peninsula as well as the consequences of these developments. Sources show that Saami communities bore the brunt of these processes. The work seeks to draw – for the first time – a holistic picture of the social transformation among the Kola Saami, while nevertheless respecting the reality of mixed and multiple ethnic belongings as well as other categories of identity in the region.
This comes pretty late, but who knows, maybe they extend the deadline? Colleagues want us to spread the news of PhD jobs funded at Tromso and Oslo and with a focus on the Greenlandic capital of Nuuk.
The project “Urban transformation in a warming Arctic” (UrbTrans) is currently seeking two PhD fellows. If you would be so kind as to circulate the call to relevant candidates I would greatly appreciate it.
The PhD fellows will be employed at UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the University of Oslo, and will be working in an interdisciplinary research group. The PhDs can come from a range of fields in the social sciences and humanities, including but not limited to science and technology studies (STS), indigenous studies, history, social anthropology, human geography, and sociology.
UrbTrans is a radically interdisciplinary project that will examine the development of Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland, in the period from 1950 and until today. The aim of the project is to describe how Nuuk’s citizens and authorities meet the changes caused by global warming, as well as to identify how Nuuk’s colonial past is activated in and affects ongoing transformation processes.