Arctic Crossings at AAA Annual Meeting, San Francisco

In case any of you will be at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco, please consider attending our panel:

“Arctic Crossings: Labour, Capital, and Locality in the Circumpolar North”

Saturday, November 17, 4-5:45pm, Continental 9 (Hilton San Francisco)

Trans-Beringian Crossings: Informal Meshworks and Evasive Space In North Pacific Borderlands – Tobias S Holzlehner (University of Alaska, Fairbanks)

Historical and Cultural Contexts of Urbanization In Northern Rim Countries – Marie E Lowe (University of Alaska Anchorage)

Producing Northern Borderlands: Place-Making and Belonging Between Mexico and Alaska – Sara V Komarnisky (University of British Columbia)

Pure Ice: Locality, Ethics and the Production of Canadian Diamonds Lindsay A Bell (University of Toronto)

Discussant – Barbara A Bodenhorn (Cambridge)

Call for papers: Arctic Crossings

Please see the call for papers below, and consider joining us at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in San Francisco in November!

CFP: Arctic Crossings
American Anthropological Association
San Francisco, CA
November 14-18, 2012

Panel organizers: Sara V. Komarnisky (University of British Columbia) and Lindsay A. Bell (University of Toronto)

The global circumpolar north is often produced as distant, empty, and isolated, far away and disconnected from powerful economic or cultural centers further south. However, the north is becoming an increasingly central site in both globally interconnected processes and in the global imagination. The north has always been an important strategic region: past human migrations and government relocations, colonial exploration, gold rushes, and government megaprojects have shaped the social and geographical landscape. In addition, a range of processes are increasingly producing northern locales as global sites: environmental panics, resource exploration and extraction, military exercises, scientific investigation, conservation efforts, highly valued art and craft production, labour migration, and many others.

“The way we imagine space has effects” (Massey 2005), and the implications of the ways in which the global circumpolar north is imagined and produced will become of central importance to the many and different people who live there as these emergent processes unfold and grow. This panel brings together research that does not fit within the usual global imagination of the circumpolar north. We seek case studies and/or unlikely ethnographies which track what we call “arctic crossings”. That is, those uncommon, yet productive theoretical spaces in which to examine linkages between space, politics, identity, and imagination. As the circumpolar north is produced through connections with other geographies, the idea of arctic crossings provides a unique vantage point for talking about northern life – the crossings between long time resident and newcomer, between locations north and south, between local livelihoods and transnational global capital. We invite papers that explore the meeting places, crossings, and encounters in the circumpolar north today or in the past.

Please email abstracts (250 words maximum) to sarakomarnisky@gmail.com and liberty.bell@utoronto.ca by March 31, 2012.

More information regarding the AAA annual meetings can be found here.

City moose in Anchorage, Alaska

This is Sara Komarnisky, PhD student at UBC, currently in Anchorage doing fieldwork with Mexican migrants and immigrants here. One thing about life in Anchorage that is funny and fits very much with clichés about Alaska are all of the MOOSE!

Just like on TV

There are moose all over the city, all year, but they are especially noticeable in the fall and winter. They eat Halloween pumpkins and nibble on tree branches in front yards, and I have been prevented from leaving my house twice already due to a moose in the front yard! Moose amble down city streets and park paths, they sleep in deep snowbanks in front yards, and some neighborhoods see the same moose make its rounds day after day. About once a week, an email is sent to my entire university department informing us that there is a moose in the parking lot. One even went inside a local hospital using the automatic doors!! Recently, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game gave permission to a group of conservationists called the Alaska Moose Federation to start feeding the moose, in an attempt to keep them off of roads and sidewalks and prevent collisions and confrontations between moose and people.

My neighbourhood moose

Moose are managed by the state of Alaska for “abundance” – that means it’s a state goal to make sure there are lots of moose for hunting and ultimately, for food. Actually, I went to a talk a while ago about bear management in Alaska, and how recently hunting regulations on predators like bears have become more relaxed in order to increase numbers of moose. The idea is that bears prey on baby moose, and limiting the number of bears by increased hunting should lead to higher numbers of moose for local hunters.

Anyway, all of the moose and the politics around it got me thinking about life in a northern city and of human-animal relations. Urban experience always includes wildlife – but usually that means squirrels, pigeons, maybe rats or raccoons. Not moose. Also, I am starting to see how saving the moose is tied up with state plans to maintain high populations of moose for people to hunt and to eat. Finally, moose are a stereotypical but important symbol of life here – one that is taken up by my research participants and that travels with them to Mexico. I wonder what everyone thinks about this. Are there similar large urban animals in other northern cities?