Accepted Papers:

Between land and sea: Kalaallit Inuit subsistence harvest on coastal sea ice in West Greenland  


Pelle Tejsner (Aarhus University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines Kalaallit Inuit environmental perception of sea ice conditions and weather change and how relations between people, marine resources and the sea shape a common sense of belonging through learning and sharing practices related to subsistence habitation of arctic seascapes.

Paper long abstract:

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Qeqertarsuaq (Good Harbour) in Disko Bay, West Greenland, this paper examines local subsistence activities and everyday use of annually reoccurring sea ice as a medium for human-environmental interactions and seasonally dependent harvesting practices. Kalaallit Inuit subsistence relations with the sea are based on environmental knowledge and continual observation, which provides clues about what to look-out for during periodically shifting sea ice and weather conditions and is taught in narratives of experienced elders and attained through a process of learning-by-doing in everyday subsistence whaling and fishing. By relying on knowledge and skills related to both terrestrial and maritime based activities, sea ice as a medium for harvesting practice, serves to inform local fishermen about minute environmental changes and how to "negotiate" dwindling ice conditions and changing habitats of local marine life. The harvest and sharing practices of kalaalimerngit (local marine foodstuffs) among households and between immediate kin is tied to rhythms of everyday life and ideas of community belonging, which relate to a deeply felt experience of 'being Greenlandic' and in dealing with newly imposed whaling quotas, hunters and fishermen often draw on their experience and relationship with marine mammals and local sharing networks when discussing issues of resource regulation, generational and social change. Faced with observations of rapidly shifting weather and climate and increased quota regulations concerning subsistence whaling practices this paper examines local Inuit relations with sea ice, weather and animals as a source for dealing with issues of social and environmental change.

panel P27
Seascape: anthropological and archaeological approaches to the human habitation of the sea