Watch the replay of these two presentations that examined Beringia and Alaska as a contextual framework to explore the dynamic relationships between humans, cetaceans, oceans, and landscapes within the slippery milieu of icy geographies.
Bathsheba Demuth is an Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University and the author of the book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. Demuth discusses how along the Bering Strait, on the edges of what is now Northwestern Alaska and Northeastern Russia, Inupiaq and Yupik have hunted bowhead whales on the sea ice for millennia. In the 1840s, Indigenous hunts were joined by commercial whalers from New England, killing to fill whale oil lamps. Demuth asks: How did whales respond to the pressures of market hunting? What might we learn about the histories of fisheries from taking seriously the actions of bowheads and the knowledge of peoples who have known them the longest?
Jen Rose Smith is an Assistant Professor of Geography and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Smith traces out how scientific and cultural imaginaries of ice landscapes have shaped and informed processes of racialization in the Arctic and specifically in Alaska around the time of its purchase from Russia in 1867. Further, she examined how historical processes of racialization have enacted dispossession of land and territory for Indigenous peoples in the Arctic and how it continues in ongoing forms.
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