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Imagining and Inhabiting Northern Landscapes

Imagining and Inhabiting Northern Landscapes

This Working Group is for faculty and graduate students from across the University of Toronto whose research topics are connected to Northern landscapes, including such areas as Russia, Canada, the United States, and Scandinavia. In order to foster cross-disciplinary discussions we approach Northern landscapes as both a geographic region and as a conceptual space. Northern regions have been conceived of as national treasures, pristine wildernesses, scientific laboratories, and homelands; Northern lands have been colonised, exploited for resources, environmentally threatened and protected. Approaching the North from the perspectives of anthropology, history, Aboriginal studies, religious studies, geography, linguistics, and arts, the group will critically examine how variant conceptions and experiences of the North intersect and interact with one another. Recognizing the political, environmental, and social importance of the North, our goal is to cultivate an interdisciplinary and transnational conversation about approaches to the study of Northern landscapes and communities within the university that each member can then draw from to reconceive her or his own theoretical and methodological approaches.

The organisation of the group’s eight meetings will bring together the model of a reading group with that of a work-in-progress seminar. At the moment, our working group is made up of 11 faculty and 7 graduate students, and we hope to find more interested graduate students at the beginning of the new academic year. In order to make full use of the interdisciplinary backgrounds of the different members the group, in preparation for each meeting two scholars from different disciplines will either assign a reading or a work- in-progress related to their research. At the meeting they will each present for 10-15 minutes, and then lead discussion for approximately 45 minutes. The working group will culminate in a public round table focused on specific themes that emerged as common amongst our disciplines. We will invite an external visitor to join us as one of the round table participants, and also ask the visitor to give a keynote lecture. Possible visitors could include anthropologist Julie Cruikshank, William W. Fitzhugh, director of the Arctic Studies Centre at the Smithsonian, or others proposed by group members. Additionally the working group will screen two documentaries with group members serving as moderators. Possible films include, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga by Werner Herzog, Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories, by the National Film Board of Canada, and A Frozen Dream by Jan Troell.

Marisa Karyl Franz, Study of Religion
Meaghan Weatherdon, Study of Religion
Pamela Klassen, Study of Religion

David Burman, Aboriginal Studies
Mark A. Cheetham, Art
Simon Coleman, Study of Religion
Hilary Cunningham, Anthropology
Matthew Farish, Geography
Frances Garrett, Study of Religion
Emily Gilbert, Geography
Cara Krmpotich, iSchool
Keren Rice, Linguistics
Alison Smith, History

Michaela Rife, Art
Judith Ellen Brunton, Study of Religion
Michael Ruecker, Study of Religion
Dylan Gordon, Anthropology
Nicole Latulippe, Geography

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