Extractive industries: Toxic Legacies and Northern Exposures Projects

Happy new year to all arcticanthropology readers!!! We hope that 2014 brings us again interesting posts and discussions on this blog, and a growing inspiring academic exchange on topics of relevance for people and societies in the Arctic.

Our first entry this year is an announcement from colleagues from the Extractive Industries Working Group (IASSA EIWG), from Canada, with funding opportunities for research. Arn Keeling from Newfoundland writes

“Please find below a notice of funded graduate student opportunities to work on extractives-related questions at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. Canadian and international applicants are welcome. Happy holidays!

————- Continue reading “Extractive industries: Toxic Legacies and Northern Exposures Projects”

Arctic city-communities and the extractive industries: urbanisation, industrial livelihoods and sustainability-considerations

The extractive industries working group (EIWG) of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA)

Gazprom Kindergarten in Novyi Urengoy, Yamal, Russia.
Gazprom Kindergarten in Novyi Urengoy, Yamal, Russia.

and the Uarctic Thematic Network on Arctic Extractive Industries start their  course in the Pan-Arctic PhD programme on Arctic Extractive industries next Monday until Friday. We have a very nice group of instructors and students alike, with participants from Canada, Norway, Austria, Finland, Russia, Denmark, UK if I remember correctly. A detailed programme and reading list can be found here on our PhD programme website.

‘Thinking by Hands’: Designers’ Field Trip to Yamal

Hello everybody,

In this post I would like to share briefly yet another pile of work in the field of ‘Arctic-based’ design research. My personal fascination with mobility of Arctic nomads, coupled with professional interest in experimentation in the field of design education have recently resulted into the project “Visualizing Arctic Mobility”, funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation and Ella & Georg Erhnrooth Foundation. The central part of this project was a field trip to remote indigenous settlements of Yamal as a form of outdoor artistic practice for art/design students from Finland and Russia. The aim was to deliver new exercises and learning materials as well as new forms of presenting research findings, i.e. in addition to verbal the findings will be further presented through film, drawings and paintings. 

Who

Our team consisted of six people: apart from me as a team leader, there were

–        three BA students from the Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russia: Tonya Belyaeva, Ilya Polyanskikh and Radmir Gelmutdinov;

–        A graphic and textile artist/Illustrator and doctoral student from the Department of Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland, Marjukka Vuorisalo; and

–        A former trainee of the University of Lapland, currently a videographer in Film Production Company Joulupukki TV Nuno Escudeiro.

Our team:  The top row: Ilya, Svetlana, Tonya and Radmir; The bottom row: Nuno and Marjukka
Our team. The top row: Ilya, Svetlana, Tonya and Radmir; the bottom row: Nuno and Marjukka

Of course, such amount of participants is rather big for an expedition with the ethnographic focus. I must admit we were not mobile and flexible at all: it was pretty difficult to engage with the community and, consequently, to immerse deeply into their daily life. On the other hand, however, it was fruitful in terms of variety of ‘thinking hands’, i.e. drawing skills and techniques as well as artistic visions.

What

All the drawing exercises are divided into three main groups:

–        ‘surface drawings’, i.e. those to present visible reality (an artist/photographer’s observation);

–        ‘analytic/surgery drawings’, i.e. those to reflect upon skills and technologies involved (design/engineering analysis); and

–        ‘unveiling drawings’, i.e. those to reveal the immaterial ‘soul’ of things (artistic imagination)

During the expedition per se, the focus was on making observational drawings: from paintings of surrounding landscapes (though of minor importance), and, of most importance, portraits of people and their belongings. It was critical to draw not ‘an average Nenets sledge’, but the narta of a particular craftsman made at a certain place with certain conditions.

In the women's world: Marjukka and Tonya are making sketches in the chum
In the women’s world: Marjukka and Tonya are making sketches inside the chum
The Narta Day: studying embodied mobility
The Narta Day: studying embodied mobility

Our personal approach (let’s call it ‘the way of visually connecting a product with its maker/owner’) brings the artistic (emotional) vision into the ‘dry’ process of data gathering. In other words, ‘living’ hand drawings will help us further to understand how indigenous craftsmen produce ‘living’ things, in their multiple essences – from physical to spiritual. 

Preliminary results: observational drawings (Photo by L. Kelchina)
Preliminary results: observational drawings (Photo by L. Kelchina)

The work is now moving to the next stage, i.e. to analytical drawings. The first public exhibition is expected to be in December, at Aalto University, Helsinki. I will keep you posted about the progress, and meanwhile, would love to hear any questions, comments and suggestions.

P.S. Many thanks to Lidia Kelchina, the Department of Indigenous Small Peoples of the North, YaNAO, and to Yury Novopoltsev, ‘Yamal Tour’, for the organizational support and invaluable help during our adventurous trip.

Supporting Visual Anthropology, Tromsø

Dear readers,

some of you may remember the film on Khanty fishing in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, Siberia, Russia by an Estonian graduate, Janno Simm. That film “Autumn on Ob River” came out in 2004 as a masters work at the Tromso visual anthropology programme. Now it seems that this programme is under threat of being closed down altogether. I have signed a petition urging the administration to rethink that closure. It has been a really cool programme, and I think it would be a loss to see it discontinued.

Here is the call for support text:

Save Visual Anthropology (VCS) at the University of Tromsø!

The paradoxical reason, given that it is located in one of the wealthiest countries on earth and attracts students from all over the world, is financial difficulties.

• Over half of VCS students in Tromsø are from developing countries.
• Most of these students would have had no chance of obtaining a degree without the programme.

• Many of them are now using their skills and qualifications to develop research and ethnographic film/documentary networks in their own countries, a good example being former students in Cameroon and Mali.

Visual Anthropology in general, and the VCS programme at UiTromsø in particular, have shown how humanistic and filmmaking skills in parts of the world prone to conflicts and political instability are helping to nurse the emergence of a civil society that can safeguard human rights locally, regionally, and internationally.

And this is why we’re signing this petition here.

Please also post your picture to the VISUAL PETITION at Save Visual Anthropology on Facebook.

We are teaching again, Rovaniemi

Advanced level studies: (ASPA2013) Identity on the Move: Sense of belonging to place and people
January 15 – February 28, 2013

15.01.2013 – Introductory lecture (Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann, Dr. Nuccio Mazzullo, Dr. Stephan Dudeck)

24.01.- 29.01. 2013 – Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Transboundary identity
– Indigenous identity: Between transnational – national – local
Spatial identity
– Search for national identity: Concept of the North in Russia
Switching identity
– Animal symbolism and regional identity construction

We are teaching again (September – December)

Arctic Studies Program ASPB1104 Peoples, Culture and Identities of the Arctic

http://www.uarctic.org/members.aspx?m=790

Anna Stammler-Gossmann (September – October)

  1. The concept of indigeneity: From definitions to norms and to identity (object of international law; between transnational and local; who is indigenous?)
  2. North as space (geographical, economic, legal and mental space; homeland and frontier)
  3. Human-nature relations and environmental changes (culture-nature relations: ‘Western import’ and sentient landscape; scientific vs. local knowledge, concept of ‘reindeer/good fishing luck’; autonomy of nature and climate change, concept of vulnerability in context, state adaptive strategies and local agency, risk taking behavior and no-risk thesis)
  4. Anthropology of snow (social and economic significance of snow, Santa Claus tourism, ‘no snow’ emergencies, snow business)
  5. Anthropology of seawater (changing Arctic Ocean, borders and lines, multiple meanings of seawater, ‘taking and giving properties’, fish and fisheries; burden or asset – ‘newcomers’ to the ocean [King Crab and farmed fish]; dynamic seascape and coastal communities)

Nuccio Mazzullo  (October)

  1. Introduction to relevant anthropological approaches to issues of space, place and territoriality. Indigenous narratives of the land versus maps and borders to administrate the land.
  2.  Place names on maps and issues of identity. Mapping as way of reclaiming land and emphasizing indigenous presence and its relation with it (Inuit and Sámi examples).
  3. Resource conflicts and indigenous rights. Overview of some world wide example related to oil extraction, mining and forestry and then focus on the conflicts between Sámi reindeer herding and forestry in Upper Lapland
  4. Issues of locality and globality particularly in relation to indigenous identity.  Cultural and social change while keeping up with traditions.
  5. Tourism and cultural representations of otherness: issues of cultural and social authenticity.

Human agents or resources in Arctic extractive industries?

Human Resources in Arctic extractive industries – a PhD course under the Uarctic Thematic Network “People and the Extractive Industries”

It was a small but extremely diverse group that we got together between September 10-16 in St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, Canada. The participants to the course came from 5 different institutions and 7 different countries, to learn for a week more on a broad variety of topics related to what the economists and business studies people call ‘human resources’ and we in anthropology call ‘people’. Actually, Gertrude Eilmsteiner-Saxinger, one of the participants of the course, made a valuable comment in this respect – which is that at least for us the term ‘human resources’ totally lacks the agency of people who are involved in or affected by industrial activity. So maybe it’s better to call this next time ‘human agents’?

“It was excellent teaching, it was interesting topics, it was free, and it was fun” – along these lines Gertrude Eilmsteiner summed up the course – quite nice, thanks Gerti for the nice quote, and sorry if I don’t remember it as exactly as I wish

Ships for servicing the Hibernia oil platform off Newfoundland ‘hiding’ in the harbour from Hurricane Leslie on 11 September

Continue reading “Human agents or resources in Arctic extractive industries?”