Arctic Domus – Humans & Animals Across the North, is a research program that explores humans and animals across the North. Arctic Domus is a five year European Research Council Advanced Grant that is at its mid-term point.
Arctic Domus is co-ordinating field research in fields of archaeology, anthropology, environmental history, and social studies of science to elaborate a new model of emplaced human-animal relations evoking recent theoretical concerns of the definition of the person, the attribution of agency, and the importance of ‘built environments’. The project is working inductively from empirical observations in multiple field sites across the circumpolar Arctic from the Russian Federation, to Fennoscandia, to Canada. Through the study of how hunters, herders, fisherman and ‘fish-farmers’ work together primarily, but by no means exhaustively, with three key species – reindeer (caribou), dogs, and salmon– the team members are developing a complex and nuanced account of these socio-ecological relationships.
The circumpolar Arctic has become the focus of powerful debates over the balance between the protection of cultural heritage and the development of natural resources to fuel a future for industrial economies. The sets of human-non-human relationships chosen for study cover the full range of theoretical and political discourse within the sciences today from primary encounters in domination to contemporary bio-technical innovations in farming. Arctic Domus is attempting a transcendence of typical ‘existential’ models of domination between people and animals by examining complex social settings where more than one species interact with a landscape to produce ecological strategies. The team is also challenging and revisiting existing definitions between wild and tame by instead examining what links these behaviour types together. Further, the team members are examining how domestication was never a sudden, fleeting intuition but rather a process wherein people and domesticates come closer and move farther from each other. Finally, the research team, working within the above mentioned literatures, are developing a renewed model – a new way of describing – these relationships which does not necessarily rely upon metaphors of domination, competition, individual struggle, origins, or hybridity but instead builds local knowledge, ways of knowing and articulations into the fabric of homes and homelands.
New or Enhanced Linkages
In some ways Arctic Domus shares foci with all of CICADA’s research themes; however, Arctic Domus shares the strongest affinity with life projects, living well, communities of life and indigenous visions of the world, customary tenure systems and territorial rights, livelihoods and food sovereignty: coping with neoliberal growth, and community-based protected areas, co-management, and conservation governance.
Arctic Domus has a team working in the Peel River watershed. Recent court cases surrounding the development of mineral resources in this area has prompted Arctic Domus to support enhanced Gwich’in involvement to include the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute and the Vuntut Gwich’in Heritage Department, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department, and Na Cho Nyak Dun as both have overlapping use in this area with the Gwich’in. Two NGOs involved in this fight are CPAWS Yukon and Yukon Conservation Society.
Arctic Domus is also in partnership with the Veps, Russia (Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast, Vologda Oblast), as this community is facing mining, fishing, forestry, agriculture, and urban growth issues. The main NGO led by Zinaida Strogal’shchikoba is called ‘Society of Vepsian Culture’.
Arctic Domus also engages in a partnership with the Central Alaskan Yupik people, the most numerous of Alaskan indigenous peoples. Yupik people in this area have always moved between camps, fishing in the summer, hunting and trapping in the winter and continue to do so: Arctic Domus researchers are exploring hunting and fishing livelihoods and community salmon management knowledge.
Program Director: David G. Anderson