Tenure Track Position in Oulu, Finland: Cultural Histories and Traditional Knowledge of Resource Use

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).

Job description

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.

Call text:

https://rekry.saima.fi/certiahome/open_job_view.html?did=5600&jc=1&id=00008955&lang=fi

Arctic Security and Anthropology

Our colleagues Gunhild Hoogensen Gjorv with Marc Lanteigne  launched the Routledge Handbook of Arctic Security, of which they are the main editors, and where there are some chapters relevant for  (and co-authored by) us. Gunhild said that the starting point for their approach to security is much broader than just hard dominant state approaches to security, focusing on security that matters to people on the ground. The basics is that feeling secure is first and foremost being free from worry. I think in this definition security as a concept is related pretty closely to well-being, another of our focuses. It would be interesting to explore the connections between the two more explicitly. The book has 42 authors, of which seven were at the launch during the Arctic Frontiers conference 2020 in Tromso. The contributions cover the whole range of security issues connected to the Arctic Council, communities and extractive industries, indigenous theoretical approaches to security, legal reform and security in Russia, and in all other Arctic countries, energy security, peace, and many other relevant topics.

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The editors launching the book at the Arctic Frontiers 2020 conference in Tromso

Continue reading “Arctic Security and Anthropology”

Future Arctic Ecosystems revisited or reindeer herding at the verge of extinction?

30 Oct, 14:00, Rovaniemi, Arktikum, 2nd floor, coffee room.

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The world’s northernmost herding horses? at work in herding reindeer, Kharaulakh, Laptev Sea

In this Wednesday Afternoon Coffee Chat (WACC) Florian Stammler will have a dialogue session with Aytalina Ivanova from Yakutsk reflecting on Arctic research agendas. What was supposed to be the first trip in a new multi-party consortium on scenarios of a changing Arctic became an example of how research agendas can – and should – change in response to the concerns of those people with whom we work in the field. During the first research trip, it turned out that rather than the project topic – people in the field were concerned about other things that are more immediately related to their future as a community. You are welcome to join and find out what worries people even more than the changing Arctic Climate. This WACC will feature impressive photos and videos from a very extreme environment on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, with nomads who unite tradition and innovation in very original ways. All welcome, coffee and biscuits will be served.

Discussion: pros and cons of research cooperation between academia and military/security organisations

This month’s reading and discussion circle of our Arctic Anthropology team is open to all interested participants! Given the relevance of the topic for the entire academia, we explicitly welcome scholars and students also from other research groups and academic fields than ours. We will discuss the pros and cons of research cooperation between academia and military/security organisations.

TIME: 22 August 2019, 12:00 (noon), Helsinki time (UTC+2)

PLACE: Arctic Centre, Borealis room, 2nd floor, Pohjoisranta 4, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Chapter to read: Rubinstein, Robert A. 2011. “Ethics, Engagement and Experience: Anthropological Excursions in Culture and the National Security State.” In Dangerous Liaisons: Anthropologists and the National Security State, edited by Laura A. McNamara and Robert A. Rubinstein, 145–66. Santa Fe, N.M.: School for Advanced Research Press.

A short introduction to the topic: Rubinstein (2011, 145) observed that “security agencies and organizations are expending considerable efforts and resources to figure out how to […] bring anthropologists and other social scientists to work with them.” This includes not only direct employment but also funding of and access to publications and conferences (Ferguson 2013). A recent example is a common workshop held in Rovaniemi in Spring 2019 about security issues, to which Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) and NATO experts were invited and which was fully funded by the latter.

The traditionally left-wing preponderance in anthropology tends to strong ethical reservations, up to complete denial, towards any forms of academic cooperation with military and other security organisations, due to concerns about misappropriation. We should, however, also admit that denial and outrage often goes hand in hand with generalisations about the military “in a totalizing fashion that our discipline would never sanction were they to be applied to other peoples” (Rubinstein 2013, 121). Also in our discipline there are voices advocating a responsible cooperation in order to contribute to better-informed decisions within military structures. After all, a pragmatic discussion acknowledging the presence of the military as an immutable fact boils down to one question: does bringing knowledge about societies into the military rather increase or reduce harm inflicted to people.

As overt and covert interest of military and security organisations in our work as social scientists is potentially everywhere, we will discuss in this session a chapter that tries to offer a balanced discussion, without slipping into sweeping generalisations and negative stereotypes about “the military”. The goal is to discuss according opportunities and dangers of cooperation.

Further readings for those interested in the topic:

Chamayou, Grégoire. 2015. Drone Theory. New York: Penguin.

Ferguson, R. Brian. 2013. “Full Spectrum: The Military Invasion of Anthropology.” In Virtual War and Magical Death: Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Sverker Finnström, 85–110. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Rubinstein, Robert A. 2013. “Master Narratives, Retrospective Attribution, and Ritual Pollution in Anthropology’s Engagements With the Military.” In Practicing Military Anthropology: Beyond Expectations and Traditional Boundaries, edited by Robert A. Rubinstein, Kerry B. Fosher, and Clementine K. Fujimura, 119–30. Sterling, Virginia: Kumarian Press.

Price, David H. 2016. Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Ssorin-Chaikov, Nikolai. 2018. “Hybrid Peace: Ethnographies of War.” Annual Review of Anthropology 47 (1): 251–62. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102317-050139.

The perfect place for comparative border studies?

Being here in Blagoveshensk (for a conference on a different topic), I realise how cool this place is for border studies.

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On the left side the Chinese skyscrapers of Heihe, on the right the Amur embankment. The tower is a control tower, I guess for the border, but also for the safety of the swimmers in summer, because it’s placed at a public beach:)

Continue reading “The perfect place for comparative border studies?”

Another Summer school: Oulu 12-16 August 2019

Colleagues from Oulu also put together an interesting programme for their doctoral course, with a focus on studying ‘dark heritage’, i.e. civil wars, atrocities. Here is their programme description, and they say there are still some places free:
The Human Science Doctoral Student course: Monuments, visual representations, and spaces of  dark heritage, 3 credits, in the University of Oulu, 12. – 16. August 2019. Location: HUTK-HUM330, third floor.

The course outlines international dark heritage scholarship, focusing especially on memorialization of civil wars, places of atrocities and other painful and traumatic sites. The course will focus on memorialization of civil wars, like in Ireland, the USA and Finland, sites of colonial atrocities towards indigenous people in Australia, and sites of ethnic violence at the end of 19th and 20th centuries. The course will focus on different kind of memorials and other visual materials and representations, for example photographs, of these sites and people; how memorials and photographs visualize the memory of the painful incidents that occurred in the places. This course is interested in the intersection of what we consider dark heritage, what is remembered (and what
is forgotten, or even silenced) and how they are remembered in terms of how they link to wider identity issues of race, class and gender.
Course teachers:
Professor Jane Lydon, The University of Western Australia, Australia.
Professor Paul R. Mullins, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, USA.
Associate Professor Laura McAtackney, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Docent, Senior lecturer Timo Ylimaunu, University of Oulu, Finland.

The Course includes six (6) hours teaching each day in one-week period, 12. – 16. August
2019, so there will be 30 hours teaching in the course. Teaching will happen two hour classes before the lunch and four hours at afternoon. Students will give a short max. 15 min paper of their own doctoral research topic during the course in the workshop-type classes. Course includes two field walks in different dark heritage sites in Oulu.
Meeting location: Central lobby at University of Oulu at 9 am. 12th of August. We will have a table at there. University campus maps: https://www.oulu.fi/university/campuses
Teaching language: English.
Students will repair for the course short paper in their own research topics before the course. There is no course fee. Students will be responsible of their own travels, accommodation and living in Oulu.

Contact: timo.ylimaunu(at)oulu.fi

Anthropology and History: summer school 5-11 August

Colleagues from Russia put together a really interesting programme to revisit the relation of anthropology and history, particularly in Russia and post-socialist countries. Their summer school announcement sounds very attractive, including possible travel grants to the school venue in Tyumen, Russia, plus free accomodation and meals. If you are interested, contact our friend Nikolay Ssorin Chaikov (nssorinchaikov(at)hse.ru) or visit the summer school website

Domestication revisited?

Domestication is by most used as a term for the biologically traceable subordination of animals under human control. But anthropologists have for long argued that there are also social definitions of domestication. Very influential was the one by Tim Ingold (2000), who classified domestication as either characterise between a relation of trust or a relation of domination between humans and animals. A distinguished group of researchers spent two days at a conference in very creative and intellectually demanding talks about this issue.

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from left to right: Shiaki Kondo, Shiro Sasaki, David Anderson, Hiroki Takakura, Juha Kantanen, Hugh Beach, Florian Stammler, Aytalina Ivanova, Yuka Oishi, Charles Stepanoff

The event was hosted by Tohoku University in Japan (see here for a programme), and co-organised by Director Hiroki Takakura together with Florian Stammler. In combination, we are happy that we managed to have invited some of the principal contributors of recent debates on domestication from various disciplines. In a way the meeting was partly like a continuation of debates that we had at recent seminars of the Finnish Academy’s Arktiko programme in November 2011, and then at the ArcArk final seminar in Rovaniemi in December 2018.

It was remarkable that all the recent re-considerations by these scholars that became prominent in more recent years agreed on several points and argued for overcoming the dichotomy between trust and domination. So what do David Anderson’s et al (2017) idea Continue reading “Domestication revisited?”

Keeping Arctic animals makes sense!

The Arctic Ark team has presented their work of the last four years in human-animal relations in the Arctic at the Finnish Academy’s final Arktiko Seminar. Studying people’s relations to their domestic pastoral animals in the Arctic using approaches from anthropology and genetics has resulted in some surprising results:

Our work with reindeer, horse and cattle herders in Lapland, Arkhangelsk region and Yakutia has shown that

  1. people in the Arctic have long relied and still rely on more animal diversity than reindeer and fish
  2. a very similar set of properties of their pastoral animals is valued by the herders across regions and also across species: the independence, the autonomy of the animals, and the very low level of human care that the animals need in comparison to other more southerly animals are particularly valued. This also comes with the plus that all these animals can wander off and search for their own food, grazing
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    ArcArk coordinators Juha Kantanen (genetics) and Florian Stammler together with Alexandra Grigorieva (Yurta Mira) in front of the ArcArk poster on the viability of horse-herding

    on sometimes very limited pasture resources. Imported breeds of pastoral animals, like Holstein cattle or Arabian horses would not be able to survive on such resources. And particularly, their would not be able to graze on pastures covered under snow. This is what Sakha horses can, which you do not need to feed at temperatures down to minus 60.

  3. that in different regions the same species of animals is used in a very diverse way, and this use is culturally determined. We find that the broader the use value of the animal is in the specific society, the more resilient the animal husbandry is to different socio-economic shocks on the human-animal livelihood. A good example for this is the horse: in Yakutia people value the horse as a source of meat, of transport, racing, prestige, milk, hair and spiritual connection to the land. This combination of broad use-application of the horse has led to a steady grow of horse numbers and steady demand for horse products on the market, making this an even economically viably livelihood. On the other hand, in Finland and in Mezen (Arkhangelsk), local horse breeds have lost their economic value almost entirely, since motorised transport replaced them in agriculture and forestry. In these cases, where people do not eat horse meat, the only use – value left for the horses is as a source for tourism and racing.

Continue reading “Keeping Arctic animals makes sense!”

International conference on “Local horse breeding in Russia in the past, present and future”, June 22-24, 2018

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.

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Mezen mare with its foal in Lampozhnya, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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The author speaking about human animal symbiotic adaptation in the Arctic, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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the conference organiser Irina Borisovna Yur’eva at the conference dinner, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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Participants of the competition with their Mezen horses, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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Cultural program, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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Theory and practice hand in hand, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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The founder of the village Lampey brings the trophies, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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Q&A after the presentation, photo: Christian Vagt

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.

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River crossing to the village of Lampozhnya, photo: Christian Vagt

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 director Alexander Mikhailovich Zaicev and other staff of the Russian Scientific Research Institute of Horse Breeding which is the leading institution researching local horse breeds in Russia.

The Vavilov Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Laboratory of Comparative Animal Genetics

The Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy

The Scientific-Art Museum of Horse Breeding in Moscow:

The Zoological Museum of Moscow University, head of research Natalia Spasskaya

Sever – the information resource of the Mezen region

Animal breeding and genetics group of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, head of research group Gunnar Klemetsdal

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The author with the heraldic animal of the town of Mezen, photo: Christian Vagt