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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R30891
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Cultivating Place, Livelihood, and the Future: An Ethnography of Dwelling and Climate in Western Greenland Open Access
- Other title
- Type of item
- Degree grantor
University of Alberta
- Author or creator
- Supervisor and department
Nuttall, Mark (Anthropology)
- Examining committee member and department
Frank Sejersen (Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen)
Marko Zivkovic (Anthropology)
Kenneth Caine (Sociology)
Rob Shields (Sociology)
Naomi Krogman (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
Department of Anthropology
- Date accepted
- Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
- Degree level
In order to investigate how Inuit Greenlanders in western Greenland are experiencing, responding to, and thinking about recent allegedly human-induced climate change, this dissertation ethnographically examines the lives of Greenlanders as well as Norse and Danes in the course of past historical natural climate cycles.
My emphasis is on human endeavours to cultivate a future in the face of difficulties caused by climatic and environmental transformation. I recognize locals’ initiatives to carve out a future in the promotion of sheep farming and tree-planting in southern Greenland and in adaptation processes of northern Greenlandic hunters to the ever-shifting environment.
Sheep farming was introduced by those Danes who were inspired by the existence of Norse society in the Middle Ages on the island, and tree-planting was initiated, presumably for experiment purposes by Danes and other outsiders. Some self-reliant, independent Greenlanders who could envision an alternative life in farming took over and developed a sheep farming tradition. Whether tree-planting can take hold in a Greenlandic sociocultural landscape is still open to question. With government support, Greenlandic farmers managed to adapt their livelihood to the harsh climate although this created their dependency on the government and global economy. In the trial-and-error adaptation process, farmers learned historical fluctuations of temperature. This relates to what the Norse ruins scattering throughout southern Greenland tell farmers – a sense of continuity of people’s lives from the past to the present. This becomes their frame of reference in holding a view of the future.
Like sheep farmers, hunters in northern Greenland are fully competent in a transient landscape and are flexible enough to cope with novel shocks in the environment. However, unlike farmers’, their effort to envision a future has often been frustrated by larger forces, including international politics. Locals’ narratives on climate change well reflect their expectations, frustrations, and anxieties.
It is important to create a situation where people can freely envision a better way of life, explore future possibilities, and realize the values they have for life. This will lead to the continuance of individuals’ lives, local communities, and − ultimately – to the building of a sustainable nation.
- Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
- Citation for previous publication
Hayashi, N. 2011. “Jisedai-ni kanôsei-wo tsunageru kôdô: minami guriinrando-no shokurin jigyô” [Proactive action for future generations: the case of a tree-planting project in South Greenland]. Hoppô Ringyô [Northern Forestry] 63: 341–345. (in Japanese) Available at http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.25127Hayashi
, N. 2009. “Letter from Abroad: Living in a Small Town of South Greenland.” On-line newsletter submitted to the Canadian Circumpolar Institute (CCI), U of A, Edmonton, AB. Available at http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.24785
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File title: 1. Introduction