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Castle Lecture Series

After the Ice: Polar Ice as a New Arena for Humanistic Research and Conflicting Interests

This lecture is part of the monthly Castle Lecture Series hosted by the Smithsonian's Grand Challenges Consortia.

Dr. Igor Krupnik
Curator of the Arctic and Northern Ethnology and Head of Ethnology Division
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
July 23, 2013
Noon – 1:00pm EDT

Sea ice–frozen saltwater–is a key component of the polar environment and the planetary system. Historically, sea ice is a domain of physical and natural scientists, oceanographers, climate modelers, also of navigators and engineers. This lecture offers a different perspective on Arctic ice as an increasingly pressing focus for social and humanistic research, and of public interest. In the areas where polar residents regularly use the ice for transportation, hunting, or communal activities, they also create a particular cultural ‘scape’ made of specific indigenous terminologies, age-old place names, stories, trails, navigation marks, and other signs of human presence. Today, cultural ‘ice-scapes’ of polar people are threatened by the global warming and by the progressive language and knowledge loss. As Arctic may soon become ice-free in summer, new competition is certain to emerge for the diminishing remnants of the polar ice among indigenous residents, wildlife managers, environmentalists, industries, and other players, who have conflicting visions of ice and its primary use.

For additional information please contact Consortia@si.edu.

The presentation will be webcast and archived on this page.