Event Details

Arctic Domus team members to present papers at CASCA/IUAES 2017

Arctic Domus team members to present papers at CASCA/IUAES 2017
20 November 2016 - 07 May 2017

Arctic Domus team members are convening panels and presenting papers at the upcoming International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) conference in Ottawa from 2-7 May 2017. 

Panel and paper abstracts can be found below, and you can view the full programme here.


PanelSonic affinities in music and movementLocation: Room 017, 05 May 2017 at 08:30

Paper Title: 'You gotta sing to it!': Calling in through song among the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation in and around Dawson City, Yukon

Author: Tamara Ranspot (University of Aberdeen)

Short Abstract: Responding to a decline in salmon stocks, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation have created a song calling the fish home. This paper explores this practice of calling in through song, examining its foundations in the stories of the region and tracing its resilience through periods of colonial impact.

Long AbstractIn response to a critical decline in Chinook salmon stocks, members of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation of Dawson City, Yukon created a song called 'Luk Cho Anay', or 'Big Fish Come'. The song calls the fish back home through the water, and was inspired by Elder Angie Joseph-Rear. When asked by other community members what made her such a successful fisher, Angie responded that she'd sing to the fish, calling them in to her; 'You gotta sing to it!' she said. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, this paper will explore this practice of calling in the non-human through song. 'Luk Cho Anay' is a contemporary continuance of similar musical practices that are central in Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in ethnohistory and oral tradition. As such, I will examine the foundations of this musical phenomenon in the 'long ago stories' of the region, tracing its resilience through periods of colonial impact and historic rupture in the oral history of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, and finally, exploring its role in both contemporary subsistence practices and expressive culture. This practice of calling in, but one example of the broader, under-examined diversity of shared musical practices at the human-animal interface, both demonstrates and reaffirms the sociality and personhood of non-human beings within the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in lifeworld.


Panel: Materialities of human-animal movement in northern landscapes, Location: Room 009, 02 May 2017 at 13:00

Convenors: Alexander Oehler (University of Aberdeen) & Sarah Carmen Moritz (McGill University)

Short Abstract: This panel invites papers concerned with the ways in which movement entangles humans, animals and materials in northern landscapes. It focuses on land features and material implements as nexuses between humans and animals in motion.

Long AbstractThis panel invites papers exploring human-animal relations through contexts of movement that transcend conventional wild-tame dichotomies. Based on the key premise that inter-species relations do not have to be collaborative or affectionate to be social, our emphasis lies on ethnographic accounts in which land features and/or material implements form communicative nexuses between beings in motion. Instead of approaching human-made implements and environmental modifications (e.g. cairns, dams, tethers, nets, trails, traps, ponds, canals, etc.) as manifestations of human exploitation or control, we seek more nuanced interpretations that take into account animal autonomy and intentional use of the material world. We inquire how animals are known to engage modified environments, and how people interpret, accommodate, or encourage animal utilization of the human-made. In this context, we ask how objects of joint movement (e.g. sleds, saddles, reins) become implements of inter-species communication rather than of control only, and how dynamic aspects of the environment (e.g. water currents, tides, winds) are enlisted in inter-species movement. Given the emplacement of joint and opposed movements in shared landscapes, we seek to gain a better understanding of how diverse beings draw benefit from material or perceptive advantages they identify in others. We ask, how does relational movement encourage the embodiment and accommodation of an other's perspective (i.e. hunter vs. prey), and in situations of intentional congruence (e.g. falconer and falcon), what are examples of multi-sensorial sharing? Finally, where joint or opposed movement do not apply, what can we learn from other contexts, such as affection, competition, or aloofness?

Paper Title: Submerged human and animal identities in northern landscapes

Author: David Anderson (University of Aberdeen) email

Short Abstract: This survey of "submerged" human and animal identities in Northern landscapes explores how northerners often form complex relationships with visible or invisible “underground” entities through ritual, genetic research or the development of new domestic breeds.

Long Abstract: This paper surveys the quality of "submerged" human and animal identities in Northern landscapes from Canada, to Scandinavia and Siberia. Based on fieldwork in all three regions, the paper explores accounts of "underground" people or of animals which spring from submerged sources. Treated often as mythical, the paper explores how northerners often form complex relationships with submerged identities. These relationships can be emplaced through ritual structures or through gifting, or through dreams which connect visible and submerged worlds. The paper does not limit itself to indigenous ethnographic settings but also explores laboratory imaginaries of submerged identities through genetic research or the development of new domestic breeds. The use of ritual, implements and communication with submerged identities will be shown to question the contemporary theories of domestication.

Paper Title: The trap as a home: domination and mutualism in Gwich'in sensibilities about trapping

Author: Robert Wishart (University of Aberdeen)

Short Abstract: In playing between theories of domination and mutualism I argue that trapping is an activity that works within the movements of animals and people and within a sensibility of the land and homes.

Long Abstract: The Gwich'in of the Mackenzie Valley have consistently positioned trapping as a valuable exercise despite fluctuations in the price of furs. Materialist anthropological theories created an image of trapping as an activity that necessarily leads to individualism, alienation and disenchantment. The rise of anti-fur sentiments in the 1970's helped cement this imaginary of the trapper. In contrast I argue that trapping as it is practiced today is far from being an alienating practice. Indigenous trappers build their traps and trap-lines in ways that suit their pre-existing practices of movement on the land and work within the social structures of a hunting life-world today. Trappers talk about how trapping requires knowing the land and relating to the animals in respectful ways and knowing how to invite them into their traps. For the trappers I worked with, creating the correct architecture for animal 'homes' is the key to luring animals into giving themselves to the trap. In order to dispel the imaginary of the cruel, dominator of animals it is tempting to turn instead to thoughts on mutualism, but it would be difficult to argue that this activity does not require some deception. The trap can be interpreted as part of a historical continuum of design within various Northern architectures of human animal relations where the precepts of domination and mutualism are complicated by the experiences of trappers. Trapping is valued because it plays upon the signs and expectations which lie between the past and the present and between domination and mutualism.

Paper Title: Articulating Shared Materialities: Interspecies Communication in St'át'imc and Soiot Fishing Contexts

Authors: Sarah Carmen Moritz (McGill University) & Alexander Oehler (University of Aberdeen)

Short Abstract: This paper brings into dialogue critical observations about human-animal communication and movement in North American and Inner Asian indigenous fishing livelihoods.

Long Abstract: Human-animal relations, constituted through shared movements in Northern landscapes, fundamentally question and transcend conventional wild-tame and domination-subordination binaries. They provide fundamental insights into the distinct qualities of collaborative places of 'home'. This paper explores the intricacies of how fishing nets along the Fraser River of British Columbia, Canada and the Sorok River in Buriatia, Russia are engaged to foster complex enduring inter-species relationalities. We focus on animated aspects of the landscape, including water currents, temperatures, river curvature and ice, and the specific ways these are engaged, perceived, and articulated across time and space. St'át'imc fisherpersons practice a way of life possible only through intimate knowledge of the land. This relationship includes respect, ceremonial action regarding nets, water, and the spirit of the fish, and a promise to continually re-new a bond inviting fish to return abundantly to accept the river, nets, and humans as their home. Soiots of the Eastern Saian Mountains rely on alpine fisheries to complement herding and hunting activities. Drawing on intricate knowledge of seasonal fish migrations, fisherpersons abide by the protocols of landscape and waterbody spirit masters to encourage fish into their nets. Hot springs, ice surfaces and loose rock are invoked to mobilize fish, while escape routes are provided deliberately. Thus, our paper inquires how inter-coordinated movement in water encourages the accommodation of human and animal perspectives in situations of intentional congruence and discord. Importantly, contrasting observations allows us to postulate an inclusive, anti-materialist and documented argument about interspecies communication through movement across northern contexts.


Panel: Living together with the land: reaching and honouring treaties with Indigenous PeoplesLocation: Room 013, 05 May 2017 at 08:30

Convenors: Clinton Westman (University of Saskatchewan) & Sylvie Poirier (Université Laval)

Chair: Clinton Westman

Discussant: Michael Asch and Sylvie Poirier

Short Abstract: We explore treaties and agreements with Indigenous Peoples from a range of perspectives across regional/national contexts both in Canada and beyond. We consider historical and modern treaties, as well as communities in long-term negotiation or implementation, or who refuse to enter such discussions.

Long Abstract: We explore treaties and similar agreements with Indigenous Peoples from a range of perspectives across regional and national contexts, both in Canada and beyond. We consider historical and modern treaties, as well as communities who are embroiled in problematic long-term negotiation or implementation of agreements, and those who refuse to enter such processes at all. The topic of treaties is related to questions of relational movements, co-existence, territorial entanglements, and living landscapes. In keeping with such themes we ask, how do we bring shifting relationships to the center of anthropological analysis; and, how may entangled assemblages of people and territory become reconciled to one another?

In Canada, treaties have been building blocks of the nation-state and of new Indigenous relational identities for over 150 years. Internationally, for many Indigenous Peoples, treaties provide the means to elaborate a particular historical, spiritual, and national consciousness. Conversely, for settler populations in colonial states, treaties provide a means to reconcile their presence to the existence and continuity of rights-bearing Indigenous Peoples. Such agreements constitute a gift-specified relationship extending beyond the human parties to the treaty by encompassing both territory and non-human entities - historically accomplished through the use of sacred oratory and ceremony both in New France and Western Canada. According to Asch, treaties can provide settlers an ethical relational basis for "being here to stay," expressed by Cree elders as Witaskêwin (translation: "living together on [or with ('wi-') - convenors] the land") in Cardinal & Hildebrandt. The panel explores and imagines such relationships with territories and people.

Paper Title: Negotiating and Implementing Treaty Eight in the Athabasca District/Northern Alberta, Canada: 1899-2017

Author: Clinton Westman (University of Saskatchewan) 

Short Abstract: Treaty Eight, concluded circa 1899, is somewhat distinct from other historical treaties in the Canadian Northwest. Its implementation was incomplete, particularly in terms of the oral, but also the written, accounts of its negotiation. Treaty fulfillment continues to challenge contemporary politics.

Long Abstract: Treaty Eight, concluded between 1899 and 1901 between representatives of Canada and those of Cree and Dene, is somewhat distinct from other historical treaties in the Canadian Northwest, both in its terms and its process. Hunting was identified as the principal concern by First Nations; however, acquiring reserve lands and band membership under the terms of the treaty eventually became a key issue in some areas. Owing in part to the mobility of regional populations, treaty implementation was incomplete, particularly in terms of the oral, but also the written, accounts of its negotiation. This has been particularly the case north of Lesser Slave Lake, where several hundred individuals living in organized bands were not contacted by the Treaty Commission or its counterpart, the Métis Scrip Commission. Subsequently these communities and individuals were treated in highly arbitrary ways regarding their rights.

Treaty fulfillment continues to challenge contemporary politics. While First Nations have successfully concluded several specific claims and lawsuits to fulfill and clarify the terms of the treaty, areas of disagreement remain. Bilateral discussion processes to define the treaty relationship have largely faltered; the prominent struggles of the Lubicon community remain unresolved and divisive; implementation of specific claims is challenged by industrial land tenure; industrial impacts on the land are perhaps the largest challenge to fulfilling the treaty relationship. While focusing mainly on First Nations issues, I also address in passing Métis rights and politics in northern Alberta, since Métis people are also part of the communities I discuss.

Paper Title: The land entitlement expeditions and the land question on the Yamal in the first third of the 20 century

Author: Elena Volzhanina (Institute of the problems of the Northern development SB RAS)

Short Abstract: The paper focuses on questions of using grazing, hunting and fishing places on the Iamal Peninsula, practiced among indigenous people of the North in the first third of the 20th century, and it analyses the work of state land entitlement expeditions to reform the traditional system of land use.

Long Abstract: The paper focuses on the experience of reforming the traditional system of land use of Iamal Nenets reindeer herders, undertaken in the 30s of the 20th century in Russia (RSFSR). The initial land-water organization of indigenous people of the North remote area was begun in 1930 and was conducted by special land entitlement expeditions. Its mission was the substantiation and design of territorial, national, political and economic status of national regions and districts, creating the conditions for collectivization and organization of collective and state farms, as well as the destruction of exploitation of the local population, the formation of national-territorial councils and reserves of state lands for future construction. In addition, it was anticipated the handing over and fixing of hunting, fishing, grazing and agricultural lands in the collective use of indigenous people and identification of conditions for the settling of nomadic and semi-nomadic households. The presentation will emphasize on several aspects: how information about land relations among the nomads was recorded; how data reflected the actual order of things, that is how the nomads were honest with participants of land expeditions, and how correctly and accurate the last interpreted the information. Since the new land order was proposed on the data of surveys and their interpretation, it will be considered the planned changes and their impact on the traditional way of life and how they are perceived by indigenous people of the Iamal.


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