“Exploring Domestic Spaces in the Circumpolar North”


Time: 2-3 October 2008
Place: Tromsø Museum

This two day conference explored the way that indigenous people create homes and homelands for themselves in the circumpolar North. The proceedings were devoted to three themes:

  • enskillment,
  • environmental markers of households,
  • and the inscription of circumpolar populations.

The conference  consisted of a set of public lectures by specialists on the cosmology and archaeology of circumpolar dwellings as well as the historical dynamics of households. There was equal time in the programme for craftspeople to display modern and traditional dwellings and to speak about their meaning. The programme included presentations from the following eight people:

  • Tim Ingold – University of Aberdeen
    Prof Ingold is the leading authority on theories of enskillment in the circumpolar North. His recent research and books are on a new theory of perception which involves the intimate understanding of how action is integrated into the environment through a nexus of events and the entanglements of specific ‘lines’ of meaning. His inspiration on these unique ontologies to a great extend structured the BOREAS call for papers.
  • Adrian Tanner – Memorial University of Newfoundland
    Prof Tanner pioneered the study of the cosmology of a hunting camp. His work has set the standard for both ethnographic and archaeological interpretations of the domestic space.
  • Virginie Vate – CNRS Paris
    Dr. Vate is a world-renowned expert on Chukot ethnography and has recently been developing an ethnography of how domestic spaces are defined. Her work, which combines classical ethnography and a knowledge of ethnoarchaeological idiom, provides an important bridge between our participants. She has also been involved in the construction of traditional dwellings and could speak to the cosmology implicit in the Chukok iaranga.
  • Peter Sköld – professor of history, Sami society development and culture
    Prof. Sköld is an expert in historical demography, where he has developed a certain interest in Sami population history. In previous works he has stressed the close relation between the cultural understanding of diseases and mortality. Provided an internationally unique population database, prof. Sköld has now begun an extensive study concerning the consequences of colonization for Sami settlement, nourishes, family composition, migration, and especially health. Another large project focuses on the ageing population in an indigenous perspective. He is also director of the Centre for Sami Research (CeSam) at Umeå University.
  • David Anderson, University of Tromsø
    Dr. Anderson is an anthropologist working on identity and ecology in the circumpolar Arctic. His recent research on the use of space in Siberian hunting camps incorporates historical ethnography with landscape archaeology.
  • Hilde L. Jåstad, University of Tromsø
    Hilde L. Jåstad is a Ph.D student at the Centre of Sámi Studies reseaching household structure and fertility behaviour in Skjervøy and in Kautokeino parishes (1865-1930). Her work connects household demography with a study of material conditions.
  • Ulla Odgaard, National Museum of Denmark
    Dr. Oddgaard has conducted extensive fieldwork in Greenland and is a specialist on the comparative study of the place of the hearth in circumpolar households.
  • Petri Halinen, University of Helsinki and Sven-Donald Hedman, University of Tromsø
    Petri Halinen and Sven-Donald Hedman are PhD candidates connected with the HHH BOREAS project. They are working colloboratively on the history of archaeological and ethnographic research concerning Sami habitation sites.
  • Bill Semple, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
    Bill Semple is a Senior Researcher with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. His work brings together his experience as an architect, builder, and environmental planner in Canada and internationally. Working with Inuit and First Nations Communities, northern housing agencies and northern research centers, recent projects in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska have focused on the development of culturally appropriate, energy efficient housing.
  • Tom Andrews, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Canada
    Tom Andrews is currently the Territorial Archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. He has conducted research in the northern Yukon, and in the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories since the late 1970s and publications include articles on community-based resource management in the Northwest Territories, Dene traditional knowledge and place names, Tlicho ethnoarchaeology, Tlicho sacred sites, and Aboriginal cultural landscapes.
  • Ivar Bjørklund, University of Tromsø
    Ivar Bjørklund is a social anthropologist at Tromsø Museum. For many years he has been doing research on Sami ethno-history and pastoral adaptions in northern areas.

The seminar featured several traditional dwellings from around the circumpolar North and the craftspeople who made them.

Support for the conference has come from:

  • The Research Council of Norway
  • University of Tromsø International Symposium Fund
  • Centre for Sami Studies
  • The Centre for Recording Historical Data
  • The Dehcho Ko Development Corporation