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.
The warm weather in Siberia seems to have led to an exceptionally early ice-thawing on Siberia’s major rivers. The specific of the river geography here is that all the major rivers flow from south to north, into the Arctic Ocean. This means the ice melts in the south first, and then the water pushes into the existing ice downstream northwards, leading to ice-jams. Sometimes this is visually quite impressive. This year this happens earlier than usual all over the Russian Arctic, read the following info west to east:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Roza Laptander presented a poster about the snow terminology in Nenets language and the traditional environmental knowledge of tundra nomads in the Arctic. The poster of Stephan Dudeck presented the planned project of the Anthropological Research Team “Nomadic Memories” – Implementing public access to Arctic peoples’ oral history – bringing endangered knowledge back to Finno-Ugric and Uralic minority cultures.
Natural science and social science research in the Arctic is carried out together at these French institutions but real multidisciplinary and joint research agendas are still rare. For the Alfred Wegener Institute the social sciences are a new territory even if natural scientists are well aware of the consequences of their research for the life of Arctic inhabitants and especially indigenous people, as Prof. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten the Head of AWI Research Unit Potsdam stated. Particularly in the so much important research on climate change in the Arctic the importance of juridical and economical circumstances as well as the consequences for human inhabitants are more than obvious for natural scientists, who search to understand the natural processes in the Arctic environment, as was stressed by Renate Treffeisen, the main organiser of the seminar from the AWI Bremerhaven.
At the moment there are only a few and quite dispersed social scientists in Germany, most of them in the Siberian Studies Centre of the Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, who do research in the Arctic. Collaboration with natural scientists, who have much bigger resources and an impressive infrastructure at hand, could be very beneficial for social science researchers but also for local communities and indigenous partners, social scientists are working with. Precondition for a fruitful multidisciplinary research is of course that social scientists don’t feel reduced to a pure attachment of environmental studies as the “human dimension” or worse if they feel together with indigenous informants to be used just as guides, door openers and interpreters for researchers who are interested in the live of Arctic inhabitants only so far as it concerns their scientific research.
Another serious obstacle is of course the difference in research methodologies and different epistemologies used in the research. As we learned during the discussion, natural researchers are much more self-reflexive and aware of the pitfalls of positivistic approaches than social scientists suspect. A more holistic view on the interplay of political, economical and natural phenomena is necessary especially in the Arctic, where human live is so dependent on nature and nature so vulnerable.
As anthropologists we know that often we lack an adequate understanding of the highly specialised knowledge of our informants in the Arctic. We are missing environmental knowledge about weather phenomena or the biology of animals and plants in the Arctic. We are unable to grasp how much the Arctic inhabitants know about the ecosystems and cultural landscapes they are part of, because we can’t translate their knowledge in our own languages. Collaboration with natural scientists could provide us with instruments to become seeing in that blind spot. We as anthropologist at the opposite could provide the instruments to understand the different forms of environmental knowledge and how they and the epistemologies they are based on are embedded in social and political contexts. Indigenous people are often quite aware of the fact that the abilities, instruments and perspectives to look at and understand the world of different groups of people (and in general all beings) differ a lot but have to be respected and judged on their own merits. It was refreshing to see that natural scientists start to recognise the highly developed forms of empirical knowledge inhabitants of the Arctic have and their farewell to the hierarchical epistemologies that place insights derived by western science on top of the development of knowledge.
But I should not hide the fact that there is not yet so much interdisciplinary research at least in Germany and France. The only exception was probably Alexandra Lavrilliers research from the CEARC about the way Evenk and Even people in Siberia observe changes in the climate and how these knowledge is embedded in the social and religious universe of the reindeer herders, hunters, and fishermen.
The rest of the talks and posters presented served at least the purpose of getting to know better each other’s research agendas in arctic research. This is all the more astonishing as the strong division between the humanities and the natural sciences in Arctic research is something quite new in the history of science, as was mentioned several times during the seminar. Prof. Günther Lottes from the University of Potsdam for instance spoke in his talk about Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, the French mathematician and Lapland traveller who became the first president of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in the 18th century.
Concrete suggestions about joint research in the Arctic were rare. Before this background it was all the more surprising when a colleague from the geochemistry asked Roza Laptanders who did research on Nenets knowledge about the phenomenology and terminology of snow if she could imagine a joint field-research about the different manifestations of snow.
The need to continue the discussion for the search of possible multidisciplinary research themes and a further understanding of scientific methods used in research was stressed by Jan Borm, the director of the CEARC. A seminar organised by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) will therefore follow next year in the French city of Brest to continue the initiated dialogue. The talks of the director of the AWI Prof. Karin Lochte and the Head of the AWI Research Unit Potsdam Prof. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten who took very active part in the discussions gives reason to hope that the institute will foster the dialogue and multidisciplinary projects between social and natural sciences in the future.
Many people in the coastal area refer to ‘giving and taking’ properties of seawater. The coastal village lives from the sea – cod/salmon/crab fishing, ‘Arctic’ tourism. The King crab, introduced to the Barents Sea from the North Pacific Ocean the 1960s by Soviet scientists, has become a blessing for the local community. While the Norwegian government and scientists are still challenged with the question – Is the King crab a curse or an asset? – the market demand for the delicacy is high and the local crab farm and processing factory create jobs for the community. The story of Bugøynes – ‘from the brink of existence to prosperity’ (http://barentsobserver.com/en/sections/business/bugoynes-story-survival-and-prosperity) – is a successful story of survival through the different downturns (collapse of cod stocks, unemployment, aging population, outmigration) and about community viability.