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Northern Animals and Borders Virtual Workshop Live Stream

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Mark your calendars for the live stream of the Northern Animals and Borders Virtual Workshop! On Friday, January 22nd from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST we will broadcast a live stream of the keynote talk and a roundtable discussion. Originally scheduled to occur in Whitehorse, YT in August of 2020, we’ve moved to a virtual format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The workshop, hosted by Sean Kheraj and NiCHE, will consist of a keynote talk and a moderated roundtable discussion focusing on the histories of human-animal relations and border-crossings in Northern North America.

Migration, Old Crow, YT. Photo by Jon Luedee.

This workshop explores the complicated and complex histories of human and nonhuman animals in the Northern borderlands. Animals transcend borders, whether it be caribou migration across international and territorial boundaries, migratory birds flying from South America to the Arctic coast, or salmon spawning up streams bifurcated by political borders. Nevertheless, the political jurisdictions through which these animals move are not inconsequential to their lives, or to their relationships with humans, which simultaneously transcends and are circumscribed by borders. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, participants consider the roles borders have played in shaping human-animal relationships in the Northern region of North America both past and present. We believe that the lived experiences of the North contributes a unique perspective to scholarship on borderlands and animal studies, and through the questions posed in this workshop, we can complicate previous scholarly understandings of northern animal histories.

The schedule of participants and events is as follows:

Rebecca Woods (University of Toronto) will give the keynote lecture (also the inaugural Neufeld Memorial Lecture) at 3:00 PM entitled “Temporal Transgressors: Frozen Mammoths, Climate Change, and the Politics of Deep Time” (abstract below).

A roundtable, beginning at 4:00 pm, will explore the workshop themes and includes the following participants: Bathsheba Demuth (Brown University), Oscar Hartman Davies (University of Oxford), Karen Routledge (Parks Canada), Philip Wight (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), and Andreas Womelsdorf (University of Muenster).

Keynote Abstract: For more than two centuries, frozen mammoths have constituted a uniquely fascinating subset of the paleontological record. Highly sought-after by 19th- and early-20th-century naturalists, these preserved Pleistocene-era animal bodies, often found with their hair, skin, muscle tissue and organs still intact, were extreme scientific rarities: ninety-five years elapsed between the first frozen mammoth, the Adams mammoth, was collected from northeastern Siberia in 1806, and the second major find, the Beresovka mammoth, in 1901; and by the 1950s only a handful of animals had been found. Yet the rate at which these creatures emerge from the frozen ground of Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon is increasing, and as it does, the meanings associated with these animals are changing. Once exclusive to Siberia, due to the growing Arctic population and the softening of permafrost caused by rising temperatures, they now emerge from around the Arctic, irrespective of political boundaries, on a yearly basis. From the most elusive scientific specimen, as emissaries from the last ice age, frozen mammoths have become bellwethers for a warming planet.

Both events are free and open to the public. A live Q&A will follow. If you have any questions about this workshop, you can email Heather Green at heather.green@smu.ca

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Heather Green is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Saint Mary's University. She is interested in the intersections of environmental and Indigenous histories, histories of Indigenous and Settler Relations, and mining history, particularly in the Canadian North. You can connect with her on twitter @heathergreen21.

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