Arctic Encounters: Humans and Other Sentient Beings in the North and Siberia

Over the last two decades, the Arctic, North and Siberia have collectively emerged as a region of dramatic environmental and socioeconomic change. This vast part of the planet, once seen as a wild, empty and remote area, is now understood and represented increasingly as a vulnerable and fragile place. This course aims to provide a general introduction to contemporary issues in the circumpolar North and Siberia with a focus on interactions between humans, non-human sentient beings (animals and spirits), and landscape. We will be examining some of the most critical issues facing the peoples and environments of the Arctic today, including: sustainable livelihoods; natural resource use; interactions between Arctic residents; human – animal relations; environmental, social, cultural and political changes in the region. The course will encourage students to relate anthropological ideas, perspectives and information to a range of contemporary social, cultural, political and environmental issues in the modern regions of the North and Siberia.

Anna Varfolomeeva:

Anna Varfolomeeva specializes in environmental anthropology focusing on human – landscape and human – resource relations, history of labor, and the studies of indigeneity. She holds a PhD degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University (2019), where she also did her Master’s in Nationalism Studies. Her PhD project focused on the articulations of indigenous identity in relation to mining in two Russian regions (Karelia and Buryatia) with the case studies of Veps and Soiot minorities. Before starting PhD, Anna was a visiting researcher at Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She received fellowships for short-term research stays at the University of Aberdeen (2017) and the University of Copenhagen (2018). She is a co-editor of the edited volume Multispecies Households in the Saian Mountains: Ecology at the Russia-Mongolia Border (with Alex Oehler, University of Northern British Columbia). Anna’s full list of publications can be found here.