The great auk was once abundant and distributed across the North Atlantic. It is now extinct, hav ... Læs mere
The great auk was once abundant and distributed across the North Atlantic. It is now extinct, having been heavily exploited for its eggs, meat, and feathers. We investigated the impact of human hunting on its demise by integrating genetic data, GPS-based ocean current data, and analyses of population viability. We sequenced complete mitochondrial genomes of 41 individuals from across the species’ geographic range and reconstructed population structure and population dynamics throughout the Holocene. Taken together, our data do not provide any evidence that great auks were at risk of extinction prior to the onset of intensive human hunting in the early 16th century. In addition, our population viability analyses reveal that even if the great auk had not been under threat by environmental change, human hunting alone could have been sufficient to cause its extinction. Our results emphasise the vulnerability of even abundant and widespread species to intense and localised exploitation.
The new research project "The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Histories", is fun ... Læs mere
The new research project "The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Histories", is funded by the Danish Carlsberg Foundation, and brings together researchers, curators, and artists working on art and visual culture related to Nordic colonial projects in the Caribbean, West Africa, India, Greenland, Iceland, and Sápmi. Organised by the Nuuk Art Museum and hosted by Department of Cultural and Social History at the University of Greenland, the research group held a public one-day conference at the University of Greenland during “Nuuk Nordisk Kulturfestival” 2019.
Artists took actively part in imperialist projects from the 17th century and onwards, either as participants in colonial expeditions, as »tourists« and travelers, or as onlookers from home. At the same time, colonized subjects used aesthetic practices in their resistance to colonial rule. The conference inaugurated a collective examination and discussion of the role colonialism has had on the creation and reception of art and art histories across the Nordic countries and their former colonies from the 1600s up until the present. Responding to three artworks from the Nuuk Art Museum's collection, first and second year students from the Department of Cultural and Social History presented individual "think pieces" on the connections between visual art and colonial history in Greenland to an international audience.
This paper investigates the cultural-historical processes that connect early twentieth century Ar ... Læs mere
This paper investigates the cultural-historical processes that connect early twentieth century Arctic colonial histories with experiences of coloniality. Ada Blackjack was the only survivor of an expedition that travelled to Wrangel Island in September 1921. An Inupiat from Nome, Blackjack had joined four Anglo-European men recruited by the Canadian anthropologist and explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson to reclaim the island for the British Crown. Although the only member of the group remotely ‘at home’ in the Arctic environment she was consequently accused of neglecting or even murdering a male colleague, after the rest of the men had disappeared to seek help across the ice in January 1923. As she defended herself in the press, Blackjack was framed either as a heroic ‘female Robinson Crusoe’ or a questionable anti-wife who had failed to assist the endeavor of building “A new Empire of the North”. Linking this micro-historical episode of Arctic colonial history to the macro-historical matrix of imperial power and expansion, the paper exposes the contested nature of Arctic historiography. While illustrating the entangled nature of cultural and social memory it also explores the transformative potential of historical research that both implicates and unsettles established global narratives.
This paper was presented as part of the panel "Varieties of colonial history" at the 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for Cultural History at Tallinn University. It will be submitted for peer-review/publication in 2020.
Colonisation is a gendered enterprise, with archives both expressing and constructing the colony ... Læs mere
Colonisation is a gendered enterprise, with archives both expressing and constructing the colony as masculine domain, populated by explorers, hunters and (male dominated) resource extraction. This paper explores gendered memory cultures in British/North American Arctic exploration during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Using archival material, the paper investigates the intersections of gender, race and class as they shape both tangible and intangible memorization narratives of Josephine Diebitsch-Peary. As the wife of the Arctic explorer Robert Peary she accompanied her husband on expeditions to Greenland, giving birth to a daughter in Northern Greenland in 1893. Using papers and objects donated to the Women’s Archive in Portland, Maine, the paper traces how women are framed alternately as the ‘ideal’ wife and citizen and ‘that woman’, forming part of the many hidden histories of Arctic exploration narratives. Her archives thus allow us not only access to a woman’s perspective on an Arctic expedition, but also illustrate the gendered aspects of memory and colonialism that reach into the archive itself. The paper will demonstrate how an analysis within the context of memory studies enhances our understanding of Arctic histories and cultures by embracing the entangled nature of history and memory.
This paper was presented as part of the panel 'Gendering memories: all the way from heroism to disposession' at the Memory Studies Association Conference, Complutense Universidad, Madrid and will be submitted for peer-review/publication in 'Memory Studies' (Sage Journals).