Kirsten Hastrup's research while affiliated with IT University of Copenhagen and other places

Publications (36)

Article
The Inughuit of Northwest Greenland are hunters of marine mammals and other animal species of the High Arctic ecological system. Their life is rapidly changing along with the warming Arctic, and they experience massive changes in the environment that always sustained them. This fuels a question of the end of nature, to be addressed through three di...
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Located in Northwest Greenland, the Thule region is a remarkable frontier zone. This article focusses on the undecided nature of the frontier in both time and space. The article explores the unstable ground upon which ‘resources’ emerge as such. The case is made in three analytical parts: The first discusses the notion of commons and the implicit i...
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In 2009, Greenland obtained self-government, terminating Danish supremacy, which had taken many forms over the centuries. This article analyses significant moments in Greenlandic-Danish relations by unpacking distinct contact zones that have emerged through the many encounters between locals and newcomers. Contact zones are always emplaced and crea...
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This article presents a small community of High Arctic hunters (the Inughuit in North West Greenland) who have always had to negotiate climatic changes with great impact on their living conditions. This points us toward the natural-social entanglements implied in the notion of the Anthropocene, and to the new intellectual challenges that both natur...
Article
The Thule community (Northwest Greenland) sets the scene for this study of health and environmental hazards in a historical perspective. In the early 19th century, when European contact was first made, the region was still in the grip of the Little Ice Age, and the tiny population was on the brink of extinction partly owing to epidemics. This was t...
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Based on lake sediment data, archaeological findings, and historical records, we describe rapid transformations, resilience and resistance in societies and ecosystems, and their interactions in the past in the North Water area related to changes in climate and historical events. Examples are the formation of the polynya itself and the early arrival...
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The formation of the North Water in Smith Sound about 4500 years ago, as evidenced by the establishment of bird colonies and human presence, also initiated a long-term anthropogenic agent as part of this High Arctic ecosystem. Different epochs have influenced the human occupation in the area: immigration pulses from Canada and Alaska, trade with me...
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This article highlights the relationship between walruses and humans in and around the North Water polynya in a long-term perspective. The present study draws on a combination of biological, archaeological, archaeo-zoological, historical, and ethnographic sources covering the period from the 8th century AD to the late 20th century. The study demons...
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The North Water is a recurrent polynya in the High Arctic situated between Northwest Greenland and Ellesmere Island of Canada. The North Water makes a dynamic space, where various processes may enhance or obstruct each other, accelerating or halting particular modes of human–animal relations in the region, where life itself depends on the North Wat...
Chapter
This chapter is based on recurrent fieldwork in North West Greenland over the past nine years and on historical sources. The region is currently subject to rapid warming and to decreasing possibilities for subsisting on the living resources, notably marine mammals that have been basic to social life since prehistoric times. I shall discuss the conc...
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This article explores some implications of cross-disciplinarity, as experienced in practice. Anthropologists are used to fuse different styles of reasoning by integrating the points of view and unspoken certainties of their partners in the field into their analysis. Fieldwork can be seen as an experiment in real time, where insights gained intersub...
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På baggrund af lang tids arbejde i Thuleregionen i det nordvestligste Grønland vil jeg diskutere, hvordan steder, folk og fortællinger gensidigt former hinanden. ’Felten’ er således formateret af mange forhold, historiske og nutidige, naturlige og kulturelle, og man må besinde sig på feltens flydende form, selv når den ser mest solid ud. Steder er...
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The meaning of food security is changing along with other developments in the world. While originally concerning sufficiency in the Global South, now the key issue is access to safe and nutritious food worldwide. In this chapter, we discuss the issue of food safety mainly in the Global North. First, we analyse how an increasing fear of contaminants...
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This article reflects on the merits of the expedition as an anthropological method on the basis of a recent cross-disciplinary experience, involving biologists, archaeologists and anthropologists working together in High Arctic Greenland. True to the term, the expedition had chartered a vessel from where the team could go ashore in places that woul...
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In this chapter, I discuss the issue of comparison as a road towards new climate knowledge. A point of departure is the notion of a knowledge space, as suggested by David Turnbull. When working with social responses to climate change, such knowledge spaces present themselves as apt analytical objects being both located and transcendent. This render...
Article
In the world of climate science there is an increasing demand for contributions from the social sciences, given that the current processes of climate change deeply affect societies. This article is a response to this call, with specific focus on past and potential contributions from anthropology, as we have known it from the 19th century onwards. I...
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From an anthropological perspective, water is not only the sine qua non of life in general, it is also seen to configure societies in particular ways, and to generate particular values. This will be substantiated in four moves. First, the hydrological cycle and other elementals of water will be discussed. Second, we shall zoom in on rivers, transfo...
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Dealing with processes of environmental change in an anthropological perspective inevitably implicates people. With people come notions of society and history, complicating matters of causation. In this article, I shall present two empirical cases from Icelandic history and current Greenlandic society. These cases shed light on the natural–social e...
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The social sciences face a set of complex challenges in an era of intensifying global connections that seem to undermine their constitutive object. Cultures, nations and even societies are not what they used to be, and the 'methodological nationalism' that once qualified the social sciences is no longer self-evident. One of the manifest perforation...
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This forum article is the product of interdisciplinary discussion at a conference on climate histories held in Cambridge, United Kingdom, in early 2011, with the specific aim of building a network around the issue of communicating cultural knowledge of environmental change. The lead articles, by Kirsten Hastrup as an anthropologist and Simon Schaff...
Article
The paper will explore the sense of place in the Thule district, North- ern Greenland, including the emotional topography by which people live. The analytical framework is the notion of a nomadic land- scape, drawing from the essay on nomadology by Deleuze & Guattari (2004). The nomadic landscape is constituted by a network of spatial centres - or...
Chapter
As I think we agree, the earth as a physical space did not develop independently of the development of ever more complex life forms. Conversely, the emergence of particular life forms would have been unthinkable without specific physical environments. In explaining one or the other, their entanglement and mutual formation is a key issue. This relat...
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This article discusses the way in which the constitutive condition of anthropology, often dismissed as ‘colonial’, is still inherent in anthropological practice. It is argued that anthropologists are still answering a ‘call of the unknown’ by which to expand the horizon of the modern social imaginary. The vehicle of this discussion is found in earl...
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L'A. repond aux remarques de chercheurs, notamment par Sigriour Duna Kristmundsdottir, par quelques observations sur sa conception du projet theorique, du travail de theorisation en anthropologie, de la pratique anthropologique, et plus particulierement sur sa conception epistemologique de l'«anthropologie indigene» et de la «culture» afin de recti...
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In this presentation, I discuss fundamentalism from a processual perspective, seeking to tease out some general qualities of the processes involved in a return to fundamentals amidst social change. I start with an analysis of the historical dynamics of Icelandic society in the period 1400–1800, showing how the increasing insistence on old patterns...
Article
After a couple of decades of post-modernist debate, time is ripe to reassess the unity of anthropology as a distinct field of knowledge. Many disciplines study culture and quite a few have embraced ‘ethnography’ and fieldwork. The distinction of anthropology is not, therefore, implied simply by a particular object of study (society or culture) or b...
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In this article the nature of anthropological knowledge is discussed with a view to a reassessment of the call for evidence. It will be argued that the traditional view of evidence as being somehow outside a particular argument is untenable, given the way in which anthropology accesses knowledge by engaging a particular field. This may be seen to l...
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In this article, Shakespeare’s theatre provides the point of departure for a discussion of social spaces in general. “The social” itself is a performed space, where notions of place, performance time, and coactors play a crucial role in the shaping of individual actions. Most important, it is argued that meaningful action is always partly based on...
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The value of the Arts and Humanities within universities in the present age is contested. In this article the mode of reflection engendered within the Humanities is used to highlight the intersection between gender, knowledge and the structure of the university itself - thus indirectly testifying to the importance of this mode of reflection. By unw...
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This article develops a trenchant critique of the rise of human rights as the main universal standard against which to judge violence and suffering. It begins with a case study of an act of mass atrocity in Surinam that was brought before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and which demonstrates the ways in which rights-based conceptions of j...

Citations

... Egede's history was broad in scope and rich in detail, laden with references to Inuit customs, beliefs and behaviours, but his mapping of the territory, its landscape, and natural resources was also vital to the development of economic and political connections with Denmark. The foundation of settler colonies on the west coast, the support given to Egede's efforts to spread the Gospel, and the economic value of his narrative of encounters and observations were all part of the same story [32,35]. Helen Curry and James Secord have observed "natural history [developed] as a way of cataloguing novelties, charting unfamiliar territories and inventorying potentially useful resources" [36]. ...
... However, we encountered narwhals at the entrance of Bowdoin Fjord and within a kilometer of the calving front in this study (end of July) (Figure 1). Furthermore, at least two narwhals were caught and butchered near the Bowdoin Glacier (within 3 km of the calving front) and in front of Kangerluarsuk on the days of our survey (on 19 and 20 July 2019) (Figure 1), which has been an important hunting site for at least 60 years (Hastrup, 2019) or even 135 years (Peary, 1898). Nevertheless, our own narwhal sighting (12-15 narwhals), combined with catch numbers (two narwhals), suggests that there is no evidence of high densities of narwhals in this area. ...
... Pikialasorsuaq in Baffin Bay is the Arctic's largest area of open water surrounded by ice, and is also one of the most biologically productive regions in the Arctic (Barber et al., 2001). Adjacent Inuit communities depend on Pikialasorsuaq for their food security and subsistence economy (Hastrup et al., 2018). They use Qaujimajatuqangit, an Indigenous knowledge (IPCC, 2019b). ...
... The scenarios were constructed from a review of regime shifts inferred from statistical analysis of time series of monitoring data. Jeppesen et al. have since added two further scenarios of driver recovery based on their empirical findings in the North Water area between Canada and Greenland [19] (Figure 1d,e). They identified recoveries in some periods of ecosystem reconstruction tracing back to ca. 4500 years ago based on lake sediment data, archaeological findings, and historical records of climate change. ...
... This throughflow and open water fuels high local productivity, which supports a diverse community of Arctic fauna, including higher-trophic level seabirds and marine mammals (Stirling, 1980;Tremblay et al., 2002a). Due to the rich biodiversity, the region has also supported intermittent human occupation for at least 4000 years (Dorset, 500 BCE to 1500 CE; Thule, 1000 to 1600 CE, Schlederman, 1980), with modern Inuit inhabitants continuing to rely on the NOW for their food 45 security and subsistence economy today (Hastrup et al., 2018). Given that stable ice arches fail to form as reliably as they once did (Moore et al., 2021), the NOW is becoming geographically and seasonally less defined (Ryan and Münchow, 2017). ...
... On one hand, it should be noted that the Inughuit cash economy became "almost exclusively dependent" on the polar fox (Malaurie, 2016: 102). On the other hand, because the Station was by essence meant to be lucrative, it should be recognised that it established a structure in which the Inughuit were meant to be 'productive' (for instance by forbidding hunters to settle in one place for too long (Hastrup, 2017), it can be argued that Rasmussen tried to maximise the hunting ground covered by the hunters and thereby, maximise profitability ). While this worked well during Ramussen's dominion, the issue is that to access the western goods they were increasingly contingent on, the Inughuit were encouraged to sell their catches to a trading post, where the prices were set according to market fluctuations. ...
... Field studies have, thus, grounded and anticipated the emergence of the natural and empirical cultural sciences since the late 19th century. Regardless of the vibrant debates on the constitution and the methodological challenges of fieldwork in the social sciences (Bourdieu, 2001;Hastrup, 2014;Marcus, 1995;Star, 1999), the historical kinship between naturalist and sociological fieldwork has been somewhat forgotten. Instead, it was the 'lab' which became a frequent topos to describe eco-social worlds and their disciplinary enactments. ...
... Por ende, antes de que las disciplinas sean trincheras epistemológicas con metas fijas, la construcción de conocimiento debe ser el trazado de una ruta que articule preguntas, conceptos, sensibilidades y actores más allá de las fronteras académicas. Hastrup (2018), a partir de su participación en un proyecto transdisciplinar, afirma que "Conocer a otras personas en terrenos no comunes nos enseña a mantener las cosas abiertas, mientras ensamblamos los elementos que Trascendiendo el todo y las partes: universalismo, escritura y ética en la antropología ...
... Ifølge Kirsten Hastrup er oppdagelser av det ufortalte kjernen i deltagende observasjon. Feltarbeidet oppstår i møtet med mennesker, steder oppstår i møte med mennesker, og fortiden tillegger mennesker betydning i nåtid (Hastrup, 2016). Å gjøre feltarbeid i det demokratiske Sør-Afrika, altså etter apartheid, handler både om fortid og nåtid. ...