Updates and News from Northern Anthropologies of Circumpolar Regions
Author: Stephan Dudeck
Anthropologist at the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Centre for Arctic Social Studies at the European University at Saint Petersburg and the Centre of Arctic and Siberian Exploration at the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
In the lecture I concentrate not only on resource extraction and potential conflict with local forms of livelihood and the cultural dimension behind it (extractivism versus reciprocity) but also on other phenomena social anthropologists study in the Russian North, like e.g. human-animal relations, forms of sociality, oral history, the history of people-state relations, changes in gender arrangements, cultural practices like the use of psychotropic substances (alcohol) or religious rituals and their change. All of that are aspects that one would not automatically associate with the well-known conflict between large corporations and indigenous peoples.
The ENERPO Workshop Series hosts prominent representatives from the fields of academia, business, and politics. ENERPO program guest speakers share their knowledge and experience by touching upon a variety of topics related to Energy Politics…
The seminar will take place in St. Petersburg 23-23 November 2021. Please apply with an abstract (up to 500 words) and a short biography (150 words) until the 31st of May 2021 at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a limited number of travel grants available and you might indicate your need and potential costs. The results of the selection of speakers will be announced until 30th June 2021. The participants will be asked to submit a manuscript of their paper until 1st November 2021 (around 5000 words) to be circulated among participants before the seminar. See more detail below in Russian
On 14th of February 2021 in her 94th year of life a great person, colleague in Arctic Anthropology and professor emerita of ethnology, Ulla Johansen passed away. Born in Estonia she grew up in a multicultural environment, moved with her parents to Germany, where she studied anthropology after the war in Hamburg. It was her early interests in nomadic and Turkic speaking communities that let her turn to do research on the Sakha and the Soyot cultures and shamanism. Especially in the Republic of Sakha/Yakutia she became a leading figure of scientific exchange and founded in 2012 a scholarship hosted by the German DAAD and named after her. It allows Sakha doctoral candidates specializing in the areas of ethnology, musicology, social sciences or linguistics to receive a six-month research grant and gain experience in Germany. As head of the institute of ethnology at University of Cologne she had a profound effect on generations of German anthropologists, among them some of today’s leading Arctic anthropologists.
The Arctic is a region that is commonly associated with animals. It is typical for people in the south to imagine (sub)arctic inhabitants living together with polar bears and reindeer (if not with penguins). Indeed, for thousands of years, human life in the boreal regions has been dependent on animals, probably more than anywhere else in the world. As a result, human-animal relations vary from domestication to avoidance, from socialization to demonization, and from symbolization to ignoring.
Following the success of the last workshop, we plan to continue discussing these different qualities of human-animal relationship through the notions of symbiosis and symbolic value. In biology, symbiosis (from the Greek “living together”) refers to the interaction between two organisms that are in a mutualistic, commensalistic or parasitic relationship. We believe these different aspects deserve a closer look as heuristic conceptual tools for social scientists when discussing domestication, consumption, cohabitation, transportation, diseases, and pet ownership in the Arctic. How do people imagine their relationship with animals? In which situations are these seen as mutually beneficial or parasitic? How are these relationships represented through symbolic means?
Many Arctic regions have animals on their coat of arms. However, as most people now live in settlements, they have rarely seen these animals in person. This also increasingly applies to the descendants of indigenous pastoral nomads and hunters, as once mobile families have given up their traditional livelihoods in the Arctic regions. In these changing settings, what kind of relationships with animals exist in urban islands of the North? What is the animals’ economic or spiritual value (as transport animals, sources of fur, companionship, hunting game, means of sacrifice, tourist attractions, accumulation of wealth, etc.)? What is the symbolic value of animals which once were present and are now represented by folklore dance groups or artists as part of their indigenous culture? What is the role of familiar human companions such as dogs in the changing patterns of northern livelihoods? How is the food of indigenous communities (reindeer, whales, bears, birds, fish, etc.) valued and used in the transformed social, legal and environmental contexts? We wish to address these and related questions in the workshop in Tartu.
Our goal is to assemble a truly interdisciplinary collection of presentations that will focus on the cultural and social side of the topic, contributing to a better understanding of the economic, political or ecological aspects in general. Therefore, we encourage participation not only by anthropologists but also by economists, political scientists, historians, human geographers, biologists and others. The informal nature of the workshop is suited for senior scholars discussing their research results and also for PhD students who have fieldwork experience in the region.
As a keynote speaker, we are proud to announce Riina Kaljurand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia. She is one of the coordinators of the application of Estonia to join the Arctic Council as an observer and will deliver a speech about Estonia’s vision of the Arctic policy.
We kindly request you to send your abstract (up to 300 words) to Aimar.Ventsel@ut.ee by the 20th of March 2020.
Join this unique opportunity for a broad global comparison of climate change results from the Arctic to the Global South, from Asia to Europe in one of the cities, that is much affected by climate change and dependent on water.
Our planet is suffering dramatic urgencies, exacerbated by climate change.
Excess and lack of water largely impact urban life in our cities and territories. Floodings and droughts are among the main causes of social tension, migrations among continents, desertification and hydrogeological risks, loss in food production, inadequate waste treatment.
Cities use too much water and too quickly for nature to keep up, and there is an urgent need to radically rethink the role of water in cities. Reducing consumption and better use of water is not enough under the pressure of climate change. Water is largely mismanaged: the preservation of aquifers and the extension of the lifecycle of water for entire cities is necessary.
Maria Chiara Tosi, Iuav University of Venice (Coordinator)
Margherita Turvani, Iuav University of Venice (Coordinator)
Francesco Musco, Iuav University of Venice
Paola Viganò, Iuav University of Venice
Bruno De Meulder, KU Leuven
Kelly Shannon, KU Leuven
Jiane Zuo, Tsinghua University
Michele Vurro, National Research Council of Italy
Andrea D’Alpaos, University of Padua
Patrizio Antici, INRS, Canada
Uwe Lübken, Ludwig Maximilian University
Oleg Pachenkov, EUSP
Stephan Dudeck, EUSP
Renzo Rosso, Polytechnic University of Milan
Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, IOM, New York
Gideon Wolfaardt, Stellenbosch University
The one-week program is structured as a series of guest lectures (from the universities partner and others), poster presentations from the participants PhD students and transversal skill sessions, structured to guide the participants towards the development and presentation of group projects.
Four thematic modules:
– Settlements and water in a time of climate change
– Historical and geographical perspectives
– Climate migrants, water, food, urban daily life
– Urban projects-policies, water projects-policies
– Site visits to provide participants with practical examples of the issues at stake.
The program also includes a parallel program of training in a range of Transversal Skills for developing their academic careers, and poster sessions for the participants to present their PhD research projects.
Who can apply?
This PhD Academy is offered to PhD students, post-docs and researchers in Urban Design, Urban Studies, Urban planning, Geography, Sociology, Economics, History of cities and water, Environmental Science and Engineering.
The PhD Academy is primarily for candidates from VIU’s member universities, although applications from excellent external candidates will be considered and evaluated. External candidates admitted to the PhD Academy will pay fees (further information available in the Brochure). VIU Alumni are eligible for a reduced fee.
Students from the VIU member institutions will pay no participation fees. Grant support is also available to support, partially or fully, the costs of international travel; accommodation on campus, in shared rooms, will be offered.
Applicants must submit the (1) application form, (2) a letter of motivation – which should include a short bio and a brief description of the candidate’s research project, (3) a curriculum vitae and (4) a photo.
For further information: please download the Brochure and the Program or write to email@example.com
(English version see bеlow, after the end of the Russian text)
В связи с этой датой хотелось бы обратить внимание на один аспект эпидемии ВИЧ-инфекции в России, который еще недостаточно изучен и мало известен широкой общественности. Я и сам относительно недавно узнал о нем.
Arctic Science Summit Week 2020, Akureyri, Iceland, 29-30(TBC) March 2020
funded by IASC – the International Arctic Science Committee
The IASC Social Sciences and Humanities Working Group (WG), together with IASC’s Cryosphere, Marine, and Terrestrial WGs, invites you to a unique cross-disciplinary workshop attempting to bring together the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities in order to discuss and reflect on the gendered nature of Polar research.
The workshop will combine three strands of debate that have thus far not been discussed systematically: (1) Doing science in the 21st century in a way that departs from but also pays careful attention to the history of exploration and colonial endeavours as “heroic” and masculine activities – while a masculine image still seems to dominate the methodologies and practices of Arctic and Polar research. (2) The still existing gender gap when it comes to female researchers in hard sciences, their career prospects, and their sometimes difficult working conditions as women in the field. Critiques of the gender gap and gendered research work have thus far neglected the diversity aspects of queer and gender minority (LGBTQI) researchers. They face particular challenges while working in a still largely heteronormative research environment as it is described for research stations, vessels or tundra/taiga camps. (3) The gendered composition of researchers as actors and the gendered spaces of conducting research, including the field sites, have an important impact on research interests, research design, research ethics and epistemology. The gender bias affects the research subject and methodology, and Polar research can learn from and communicate with other fields of science about how to ensure a high standard of equality, sensitivity to issues of marginalization, and ethical production of science.
We invite participants of the ASSW 2020 from natural and social sciences to pop by at the workshop and to join the discussions and break-out groups. Participants will be engaged through alternative formats to gain a maximum of knowledge exchange as well as to map out the state of the art and ideas about where to go from there.
We invite abstracts for a great variety of contributions in conversation with the three themes outlined above: besides as a set of classic academic papers (15 min) and short inputs (5 min) (e.g. sharing experiences or introducing NGOs and movements).
In particular, the workshop facilitates discussions and break-out group work for examining pressing issues in the thematic fields based on individual, group and scholarly experience and activism. Audiovisual or artistic contributions are very welcome. Also join us for volunteering as an organiser of a break-out group.
The University of Kiel, Germany announces a PhD Position “Human-reindeer interactions in contemporary and ancient Siberian communities”
in the fields of Cultural Anthropology, Zooarchaeology, Archaeology
The term is fixed for a period of 3,5 years (42 months).Reindeer are intensively herded as a means of subsistence and symbolic identity in many circumpolar societies, but, unique for husbanded animals, lack clear expressions of the ‘domestication syndrome’. Taiga reindeer herding strategies can be seen as domestication-in-practice; they probably impact more strongly on reindeer behavior and biology than the large-scale herding practices in the North Eurasian tundra. Evolutionary changes to the phenotype and the genome of reindeer as well as health-related impacts through such taiga human-animal cohabitation systems are still poorly understood and require more empirical research. The successful candidate will contribute to this field, investigating the evolution of human-reindeer interactions and the emergence of reindeer herding as a means of food production, transport and ideological expression in the Western Siberia taiga through combined ethno-archaeological and zooarchaeological scientific approaches guided by a rigorous theoretical framework grounded in cultural anthropology.
It is worth travelling north in mid June to experience one of the wonders of the Arctic. It is polar day when the sun disappears only for a very short time under the horizon and the sunset is fading into a sunrise for hours during the night colouring the horizon in a million different shades of blue, red and yellow.
I enthusiastically confirmed when I received an invitation to visit a conference on local horse breeds in Russia often threatened by extinction. Accompanied by my friend and photographer Christian Vagt I travelled the long road to the old Russian town of Mezen. Small workshop-like symposia in contrast to big international conferences allow for a more intense exchange of ideas. They enable to establish close contacts among colleagues that often grow into future collaborations or even friendship.
This conference was organised by the leading specialist on the Mezen horse breed Irina Borisovna Yur’eva of the Arkhangelsk Scientific Institute of Agriculture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the main impressions left by the event was that around the local horse breeds in Russia you also always meet a special breed of people – real enthusiasts who fight not only for their cause, but are also amazingly communicative and social.
People of different scientific institutions from Russia, Belorussia, Norway and Finland visited the conference in the regional centre – the town of Mezen – and on the second and third day of the conference travelled to the nearby village of Lampozhnya. Here, at one of the oldest settlements on the Mezen River they witnessed a two days horse tourism competition, where local people and guests compete with their own and their horses’ skills in riding and hiking.
I presented the results of the Anthropology Team of the Arctic Centre Rovaniemi as the comparative research on human-animal relations in the Arctic Ark project. We contrasted the sociocultural significance and vernacular breeding practices of three different horse breeds and the forms of adaptation of the human-animal relationship in a changing Arctic.
Colleagues coming mostly from agricultural sciences and biology were greatly interested in the insights in symbiotic adaptation of humans and horses and the idea of distance and independence as important for social relations in the North.
We could witness a heated discussion between two conceptual factions of colleagues – one promoting maximum contact with animals as the goal of horse breeding and the other claiming that you neither have to ride nor manage the horses’ behaviour with that much scrutiny in order to understand and build relations with the animal.
Other, yet not much studied differences in human relations with horses involve gender aspects. We very well know the transition of horse breeding from am masculine domain in an agriculturalist context to the favourite hobby of girls in an urban setting. There seems to also be a distinction of between those riders and hobby breeders who favour mares and those that favour stallions.
Russia is divided into regions where horsemeat is the most important economic asset of horse breeding but also of high cultural value, and others, where it is considered almost a taboo or symbol of economic and cultural decline to breed horses for meat. I was surprised to learn that Russia is an importer of horsemeat from abroad and often meat of low quality is brought into the country. While in Norway or Finland horses are mostly held for the growing business of breeding sports horses, the local horse breeding in Russia shows the full range of the different uses of horses from their role as working horses in agriculture and pastoralism, in meat production, recreation and tourism as well as hippotherapy, to its use in cultural events and sports.
Some links to institutions, which took part in the conference (only in Russian):
The Arkhangelsk Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture of the Primorsky Branch of Federal State Budgetary Institution on Science (FSBIS) Federal Research Centre of Complex Study of the Arctic (FRCCSA) of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) – the leading institution of research on the Mezen horse coordinated by Irina Borisovna Yur’eva.
“The crucial thing is the way one can inhabit space. We do not have the chance to evaluate space in the same way in the North of Russia and Canada with their vast territories and sparse population. Old labyrinth-like Venice taught me to be satisfied with a tiny imagination of possibilities of life in the era of global warming, among the melting ice.” Anastasia Karaseva from Saint Petersburg.
It might seem strange to travel to Venice in January to discuss the Arctic. There might be few places on earth that seem to be less similar to each other – Venice being a densely populated small island and the Arctic as a place including different continents whose borders and populations are even difficult if not impossible to define clearly. Also in historical terms – when the star of Venice was already declining, the Arctic just started to appear on the maps of geographers. Interesting connections start to evolve: one of the early geographical atlases “Ptolemy’s Geographiae Universae” edited by Giovanni Antonio Magini and printed 1596 in Venice by Heredes Simoni Galignani presents already maps of the Arctic. Among them, a description of Siberia called Tartariae Imperium. Venetian glass was popular at that time in Russia and reached the new established Arctic towns like Mangazeya. The hunger for northern goods fuelled the expansion of trade routes into the Arctic since the middle ages and provoked the time of explorations of the 17th and 18th centuries – when the hegemony in trade for Venice was already over.
And of course both the Arctic and Venice suffer from exotization being inundated with cliché and imagination. For the outside world they are the source of and endless stream of kitsch but also of the uncanny and demonic that is haunting the unconscious like in Hugo Pratt’s comic “Corto Maltese: In Siberia”. It might not be the best idea to start in Venice and go on a journey to Siberia in order to collect all exotic clichés and stereotypes. It might be more productive to make the reverse journey from the ‘periphery’ and try to take a sober look at the ability of both places to enchant imaginations but also to look at the social relations and power configurations behind them.
Another research tradition was present through researchers from Russia in particular from the High School of Economics and the European University at Saint Petersburg. Every of this schools represent different histories and developed different methodological approaches. They even differ in their view on the relations of indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic. To look at social problems from the perspective of trauma and healing for instance is very unusual for researchers from Russia as it is for North-Americans to look at white people not as settlers. But research grounded in fieldwork dealing with everyday life of local inhabitants is easily understandable for scholars working in different parts and historic traditions in the Arctic.
The main target group were PhD and master students from North America, Asia and several European countries doing research mostly on and with indigenous groups. Among the teachers were indigenous activists as well. To understand the different languages of academic disciplines and schools and to detect overlapping and differences might have been the most fruitful exercise during the seminar. A lot of discussion of course as always during scientific events happened at the corridor talk at coffee breaks, receptions and during the free time. Maybe even the town added some transcendental notes to the atmosphere of the seminar as one of the Russian participants put it. One of the Canadian participants told one of the students from Venice at the first session, when she admired the view over the lagoon from the window of the lecture hall: “It’s a shame to read the papers in this weather!” to which the Venetian student replied, “I live here – it’s a shame to study in Venice”.