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.Continue reading “Arctic view on Russia’s changed constitution”
Many of our team have cooperated with anthropologists from Tromso in one way or the other. Now the department there advertises a job at the level of associate professor, with a job description that might appeal many of us:
“fieldwork-based methods; human-nature relations; environmental transformations and climate change; and the social reverberations of global inequality.” And
“Experience with the following would be an advantage (in no particular order of priority): audio-visual methods; human rights perspectives; and marginalized ethnic groups and Indigenous peoples.”
I have been in touch with Natalia Magnani and Jennifer Hayes there, and both are definitely nice and interesting colleagues to work with. Prospective applicants, give it a try!
Midsummer, solstice on the 21 June is for many northern peoples and cultures an important holiday. In Finland it’s called Juhannus and a state holiday. In Yakutia, where I am now, it’s called Ysyakh, and considered the Sakha people’s new year day. The 2020 celebrations obviously come in a very different format in comparison to any previous festivities, for a number of reasons including but not limited to the corona virus.Continue reading “Ysyakh 2020 – solstice festival online”
Talking to a friend in Se Yakha, at the shore of the Ob Bay close to the Kara Sea, I realised how far the consequences of the recent Norilsk oil spill could go: the recent New York Times article about the oil spill cite environmentalists and even a Russian minister saying that the consequences of the spill could last for a decade. This is echoed by our friends from the Yamal Peninsula, who might be again among the most vulnerable victims.
The concern is that the spilled oil will eventually end up in the Kara Sea. And if that happens, it will contaminate the water along of the migration route of fish, on which the indigenous population along the shores rely for their subsistence and livelihood.
I’m contributing to an expert document on the impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic. I think it is essential that we highlight research gaps that we notice as anthropologists working in the Arctic. I would like to invite everybody to use the comment function here in this blog to highlight what anthropologists in the Arctic should study relating to the impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic. It could be that with this we might be able to influence political decisions on this in the future. But actually the question is of interest well beyond that: If you have noticed any important gaps that we should really know but we don’t know yet, please go ahead and write them here as a comment, or, if you feel uncomfortable to go public with your observation / idea, in an email to Florian Stammler at the University of Lapland in Finland. If you want, you can also share some of your impressions how life has changed in COVID-19 times in the part of the Arctic region that you know best. No idea how much is going to come in. But if it is a lot, those of you who are contributing could also think about co-authoring an article in a journal about this. This would be something sort of a “crowd-authored” article, almost like our natural science colleagues, whose articles sometimes get over 30 authors:) Looking forward to your input. Florian
After recently having celebrated the world’s first Nenets PhD defense, now we can witness another one, in three days time, 14 May 11.15 Norwegian time! Zoya Vylka Ravna shall defend her thesis with the very technical name “The Inter-Generational Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge By Nenets Women: Viewed in the context of the state educational system of Russia.” Surely this is going to be an interesting look by a European Nenets woman who studied trajectories of child upbringing in both the European and the Yamal part of the Nenets tundras. At the end of her popular summary to her thesis, she is very critical about the contemporary boarding school system, arguing that it “undermines the ability of nomadic Nenets communities to maintain their traditional and unique Arctic nomadic culture”.
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”.
Our anthropology colleague Prof Hannu Heikkinen from Oulu just sent this around. Seems to be a rather rare opportunity for a permanent job in Arctic Anthropology!
Arctic Interactions (ArcI) is a programme designed to achieve global leadership in the area of “Understanding and mitigating global change in the Arctic through fundamental studies at the interface between the natural and social sciences in the north”. These studies are aimed at weaving new discoveries and understanding into sustainable resource use, while informing those dedicated to mitigation and providing the information needed to help achieve sustainable communities throughout the North. The ArcI community in Oulu include 30 PIs linked to three research areas (www.oulu.fi/arci).
The tenure track position “Cultural histories and traditional knowledge of resource use” will strengthen the ArcI research area “Human-environmental relationship” (https://www.oulu.fi/kvantum/node/56116 ).
The research of the tenure track position should examine cultural histories and traditional environmental knowledge of natural resource use by using past records and data mining methods to identify key cultural conceptions and practices, that are focal to local communities to adapt to changing environmental condition and affect how the environment and its resources are used and understood. The position will be based at the Unit of History, Culture and Communication, the Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu.
The tenure track position is open to highly talented individuals who hold a doctoral degree and have excellent potential for a successful scientific career. Based on the experience and competence, the successful applicant will be placed at the level of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor.
Our colleagues organise an interesting workshop during the Arctic Science Summit Week in Akureyri. If you go there anyway, this is surely worth checking out:
We would like to invite you to the 2-days gender-workshop during ASSW 2020 where natural sciences and social sciences share their experiences.
IASC & IASSA Workshop Gender in Polar Research –
Gendered field work conditions, epistemologies and legacies
Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in Akureyri, Iceland
29–30 March 2020
See the multi-faceted, exciting program via this link.
Please, do not hesitate to drop in any time, in case you do not have time to follow the full program.
We have prepared talks, arts and interactive elements and welcome you, in particular, to share in the afternoon your knowledge and experience in break out groups and the “walk of ideas”.
We welcome all participants of the Arctic Science Summit Week 2020 to a cross-disciplinary workshop 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
LONG DESCRIPTION: https://gender-arctic.jimdofree.com/
The workshop is financially supported by IASC and organised by members of the “Gender in the Arctic” Working Group of IASSA.
With best regards and looking forward to you in Akureyri,
Gertrude Saxinger, IASC SHWG, IASSA
J. Otto Habeck, IAS SHWG, IASSA
Stephan Dudeck, IASSA
Katariina Kyrölä, IASSA
IASSA WG Gender in the Arctic
12–13 June 2020
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.