Visual Cultures of the Circumpolar North

This working group brings together interdisciplinary perspectives on Indigenous, environmental, and settler pasts, presents, and futures around the Circumpolar North to examine the complex visual and textual cultures of this region. With a greater number of group members at different career stages from the Departments of Art History, History, Geography and Planning, Architecture, Cinema and Film Studies, and English, we will work towards understandings of ‘visual culture’ as what Giorgio Agamben calls “the life of images” at the crossroads of visual culture, Indigenous studies, and the environmental humanities. VCCN encompasses the extensive research interests of our members: northern landscapes, borders, and environmental histories; settler colonial expeditionary narratives; contemporary and historic militarization and defence; cinematic and curatorial manifestations of north; and Indigenous arts, modernisms, and cultural heritage across Canada and the wider circumpolar north. The environmental focus of this group extends the work of previous WGs – notably Building Environmental Humanities at the University of Toronto – and tessellates with the goals of the ongoing International Doctoral Cluster in the Environmental Humanities, with whom we look to continue to work. It also aligns with UofT’s institutional and tri-campus initiative to join UArctic to establish a larger, transnational, multi-institutional, and interdisciplinary conversation on the Arctic. Confronting north-south dialogues and divides, we draw attention to the cultural, social, and environmental dynamics between Indigenous communities and settler populations across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, the Nordic countries, and Russia.


  • Isabelle Gapp, Centre for Environment & Biodiversity, U. Aberdeen
  • Ivana Dizdar, Ph.D. cand., Art History
  • Matthew Farish, A&S Geography & Planning


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Mark Cheetham, A&S Art History
  • Melissa Gniadek, UTM English & Drama
  • Alexandra Rahr, A&S Centre for Study of United States

Faculty, outside University of Toronto

  • Amanda Boetzkes, Art History & Theory, University of Guelph
  • Allison Morehead, Art History, Queen’s University

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Rowan Red Sky, Art History

Graduate Students, outside University of Toronto

  • Andrew Bateman, Communication & Culture, York/Toronto Metropolitan Universities
  • Margaryta Golovchenko, Art History, University of Oregon
  • Hana Nikčević, Art History & Architecture, MIT
  • Wendi Yan, Fiction and Entertainment, Southern California Institute of Architecture