Arctic view on Russia’s changed constitution

The population of Russia officially supported the suggested changes in the world’s largest country’s constitution, with almost 78% of those who voted. Half of the circumpolar Arctic, including most of its indigenous peoples, will be governed by a different constitution from now on. Looking at the results of the vote, it is, however, noticeable how certain regions in the Arctic deferred from the general voting pattern.

Mayor Avsentyeva of Yakutsk during voting – the photo with the cross in the “yes” box was faked later – her office announced that she voted against! photo Алексей Толстяков/facebook.com
Continue reading “Arctic view on Russia’s changed constitution”

Successful doctoral Dissertation Defense: When we got reindeer, we moved to live to the tundra – The spoken and Silenced History of the Yamal Nenets

Roza Laptander’s public dissertation defense took place online on the 29th of  April 2020 at 10 a.m. Finnish time.

“In Christianity, at the beginning was the word – in Nenets, at the beginning was silence” (Andrey Golovnev during Roza’s defense).

How beautifully put by Andrey Golovnev! The director of the Kunstkamera acted as opponent in this first ever western PhD defense by a Nenets scholar. We are proud that our team and the University of Lapland were the host of this long and successful dissertation process. Roza delivered an excellent speech, and the discussion with the opponent was on highest scholarly expert level about the meaning of silence in Nenets cultures and beyond. In his questions Golovnev went into great detail, using his own decades-long expertise in Nenets scholarship.

For example, he explored with Roza how we can interpret the fact that Nenets epic songs such as Yarabtsy” or Sydbabtsy” can start with silence instead of speech. So, as Golovnev masterfully put it: “in christianity, at the beginning was the word – in Nenets, at the beginning was silence”.

Continue reading “Successful doctoral Dissertation Defense: When we got reindeer, we moved to live to the tundra – The spoken and Silenced History of the Yamal Nenets”

Anthropology contra ethnography? 29 May 2019, 13-14:30, Rovaniemi

Sometimes in our field there are situations where we avoid calling ourselves anthropologists, for the sake of not being confused with those people who measure skulls. Instead we may say that we are ethnographers, especially in the post-Soviet Arctic. But is anthropology and ethnography the same? Many of us would say no. This is the topic of the next article that we are going to discuss in our next reading circle. Everybody is welcome! Also interested people from elsewhere, and you don’t have to be an anthropologist. All you need is to read the article and have an interest in the topic.

Place: Rovaniemi, 96100, Arctic Centre (Florian Stammler’s office, 2nd floor)
Date: 29 May 2019, 13-14:30
Article data: Ingold, Tim 2017. Anthropology contra ethnography. Hau Journal of Ethnographic Theory, vol 7, no 1. Open access at https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau7.1.005

Looking forward to an inspiring discussion.

Arctic Research: Co-production of Knowledge

The intensive Finnish-Russian PhD course “Arctic Research: Co-production of Knowledge” organised by the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) will be taking place 20-24 April 2019, in Rovaniemi, Finland.

Attention to the issue of knowledge co-production in research, policymaking, services and public debates is growing, but what counts as co-production and what interaction between science and society should entail in practice remains often unclear. The Finnish-Russian intensive PhD course provides an opportunity to learn more about the forms and values of multiple, often conflicting concepts of knowledge and discuss options available for the integration of the ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ into the Arctic research. The school offers a platform for interdisciplinary exchange in different research fields: from environmental-, identities-, indigenous-, art and design- to tourism-, extractive industries-, virtual reality- and legal studies.

Acknowledgment: Course organisers wish to thank Finnish National Agency for Education EDUFI (grant number: 220000085711) for the financial support on this project.

Project coordination by Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann;
Project management by Dr. Nina Messtyb

See the Programme

’Climate, fish and fisheries sector: Local and indigenous perspectives’

On April 16-17, 2019 at Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland, Anna Stammler-Gossmann organised a a workshop with the title above at the Arctic Centre, for which you can check the agenda (Ice_law_meeting_201904_agenda). The event was supported by the Leverhulme Trust (ICE LAW: Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World, University of Durham, UK). As part of the event, they organised a public fish-cutting workshop called “Knowledge to Knowledge: Different techniques of knife sharpening and fish skinning, conducted by Eero Pajula and Ayonghe Akonwi Nebasifu”.

IMG_20190417_162457
Ayonghe Nebasifu and Eero Pajula sharing their way of fish-cutting. Photo: F. Stammler

One striking difference in the way they cut the fish (here: a rainbow trout), was the amount of fish that goes to rubbish when you focus on getting the filet pieces out separately (in the picture the right side with the rubbish in the plastic box). Nabasifu’s way focuses on the maximum use of all parts of the fish. Even the back fin is prepared for consumption: “if you fry it, it gets nice and crunchy, he said.”

This workshop was a nice example of how we co-produce and share knowledge through the joint experience of practice.  Thanks to Anna Stammler Gossmann for organising this.

 

 

 

“Linnaeus in Sápmi: Generating Knowledge in Transit”

The Anthropology Research Team is very happy to welcome you all at the Arctic Centre for a joint presentation by Professor Elena Isayev and Professor Staffan Müller-Wille, both from the University of Exeter, UK, on the 28th of May at 14:00 in the Thule seminar room.

Look at or download a poster of the talk on the “lectures and events, Rovaniemi” page.

linnaeus
Drawing by Linnaeus, illustrating various episodes from his journal. From the manuscript ‘Oeconomia Lapponica,’ Linnean Society of London, Library and Archives, Linnaean manuscript collection, Call no. GB-110/LM/LP/TRV/1/4/1. Accessable online at http://linnean-online.org/157546/

Elena Isayev is Professor of Ancient History and Place and Staffan Müller-Wille is Associate professor at the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology.

In the summer of 1732, the Swedish botanist and physician Carl Linnaeus journeyed through the Northern provinces of the Swedish Kingdom, including parts of Sápmi, known to him (and most English speakers today) as Lapland. His travel journal is often cited as the earliest account of Lapland by a naturalist and ethnographer. We are in the planning stages for a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award application that uses the journal to create a platform for public debate about issues ranging from sustainability and wellbeing to indigeneity and sovereignty. Linnaeus’s travel diary allows to explore how knowledge was created “in transit”, that is, in encounters among people, like Linnaeus himself, who were multi-lingual and moved between cultures: guides and servants, settlers, priests, merchants, reindeer herders. In order to bring out this aspect, we plan to create a new online translation of the journal while re-enacting his journey. Discussing the translation at gatherings with local experts and audiences – a form of collective learning while the journey unfolds – will be our vehicle for exposing the meshwork of interactions through which the North and its supposed healthiness have been, and continue to be, constructed.

 

Gateway to the Arctic V: Co-production of knowledge

24th to 27th January 2018 in Pyhätunturi (Lapland, Finland)

Arctic Centre (University of Lapland, Finland) hosts the 5th ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ (coordinator Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann). It is organized in cooperation with the Alfred-Wagener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany (coordinator Dr. Renate Treffeisen) and Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France (coordinator Prof. Jan Borm).

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People, Places and Change

Exhibition – Research in the Arctic
Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland

October 3 –19, 2017. Kopio Gallery, Faculty of Art and Design, University of Lapland

Exhibition Launch: Monday, October 2, 2017, 18:00

This poster exhibition is based on the materials collected during the anthropological fieldwork in the coastal areas of the Northern Norway and Russia. It represents the relationship of coastal inhabitants with and around seawater, and their ways of perceiving and experiencing changes in the coastal life.

Layout and film editing: Anna Maria Gossmann,International School of Design, Technical University of Cologne, Germany

Arctic Centre in cooperation with the Faculty of Art and Design (University of Lapland)

Stereotypes die hard!

Last week, an advertising campaign by Visit Finland and Finnair produced images of Sàmi in traditional clothes dancing around the fire during a shamanic ritual in the tent. In discussions following the publication, many rejected the representation of Sàmi in that video, not least because Sàmi were depicted rather dirty-looking (“Likaiset lappalaiset”, YLE 17-09-2015,

The article published in the YLE Sámi website
The article published in the YLE Sámi website

Supposedly, the actors in the film were not Sàmi themselves, and the setting as well as the stage props were invented. At the time of writing, the Finnish as well as the English version of the debated video are offline and replaced with an apology, but the German and Japanese versions are still accessible.
Two years ago at the International Conference of Arctic Social Sciences in Prince George, BC, I gave a paper about the persistence of stereotypes about the Sàmi as being drunk and dirty, and how these images are being reproduced in tourism and society at large (e.g. as postcoards of Uuttu-Kalle, or in the past in popular comedies, for instance pulttibois, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbUFhKuMfCg). At first, the international audience at the conference could not believe that the images I was showing were actually available, such as the post card of Uuttu-Kalle, on sale in local supermarkets in north Finland. Instead, the audience seemed to think that I was talking about representations of the Sami in the past. The video now broadcast by Visit Finland – the national tourism enterprise – and Finnair – the national airline – is yet another reproduction of that popular, persisting image and, as the president of the Sámi Parliament Tiina Saanila-Aikio mentions in the YLE interview (“Likaiset lappalaiset”,YLE 17-09-2015), all attempts that have been made in the past two decades to raise awareness of its problematic implications seem to have been in vain. Agreeably, a step forward in getting rid of the stereotypes would be to follow Tiina Sanila-Aikio’s advice and film real Sàmi in their daily activities (“Likaiset lappalaiset”, YLE 17-09-2015). However, a wider societal effort is required to change this understandings and attitudes and that should span across all national public institutions, starting from schools.
In addition, it is interesting to notice that among the foci of the discussion, dirtiness figures as a main point of criticism. From a theoretical perspective, but also on a more pragmatic level, such debate conveys a very urban understanding of cleanness/dirtiness, a division that bring us to the structuralist analysis as with Mary Douglas where she remarks that “Dirt is the by-product of a systematic ordering and classification of matter, in so far as ordering involves rejecting inappropriate elements”(Douglas, 2003:36) and hence refers to other symbolic taxonomies . On the contrary, in a real Sàmi lávu, or any other teepee/chum condition, face and hands marked by the ashes would not be regarded as dirty, but as Ingold would have it, ” inheres in the pattern of dwelling activities that I call the taskscape” (Ingold, 1993:153), in other words, it would be understood as a sign that one has been taking care of the fire within a daily nomad taskscape and we all know that the fire has a central “focus” for the survival in the tundra.

Nuccio Mazzullo

Douglas Mary, 2003 (1966), Purity and Danger. An analysis of concept of pollution and taboo. Routledge, London

Ingold Tim 1993, The Temporality of the Landscape, in Conceptions of Time and Ancient Society, World Archaeology, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 152-174