EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P027)
Lines on the land: mobility and stasis in northern extractive landscapes
Location SO-D315
Date and Start Time 17 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Jan Peter Laurens Loovers (University of Aberdeen) email
  • Nuccio Mazzullo (University of Lapland) email
  • Tara Joly (Willow Springs Strategic Solutions, Inc.) email

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Chair Robert Wishart (University of Aberdeen)
Discussant David G. Anderson (University of Aberdeen)

Short abstract

This panel explores a multitude of lines in the North: e.g. seismic cutlines, pipelines, borders and fences, roads and railways, traplines. We want to address what such lines, often related to resource extraction, entail for Northerners (with emphasis on Indigenous people) and Arctic environment.

Long abstract

Northern and Arctic landscapes are commonly thought to be rural, pristine, and far from the dislocations of the global economy. In fact the Arctic has for over three hundred years been a resource frontier for metropolitan economies providing fur, oil, medicinal products and now hydrocarbons, uranium and heavy metals. This panel explores how local northerners, with a special emphasis on indigenous peoples, build their lives around the ecofacts of extractive industries. One of the profound effects of extractive expansion are the grids and boundaries that allow the movement of governmental, geological and mining machinery/laboratories or forbid access to places of natural or commercial interest. The panel invites papers on the "traplines" that northerners registered to broadcast and protect their tenure of sentient landscapes; the petrochemical seismic "cutlines" that criss-cross the North; the roads and rails of development that connect South and North; or the ethnohistories of parks, parcels, or areas of traditional-nature use. Following Anna Tsing (2015), Ann Laura Stoler (2016), and Donna Haraway (2016), the panel will query how disturbed or "ruined" landscapes can afford novel or unexpected relationships with the environment. It will also examine the difficult relations between lines that allow access and those that restrict access in places of massive appropriation of traditional lands.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Lines of Procurement: Marking Movement and Resources in Northern Canada

Author: Jan Peter Laurens Loovers (University of Aberdeen) email
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Short abstract

This paper addresses a variety of lines of procurement and situate this in broader themes of land tenure, resource extraction, well-being, and ecological alternations.

Long abstract

In this paper I touch on Gwich'in (Indigenous people in northern Canada) and non-Gwich'in movements on the land in relation with broader global markets. Throughout the Canadian Arctic the land has been demarcated with a variety of lines: seismic lines, traplines, roads and trails, and (caribou) fences. These lines of particular movements have been incorporated and contested in the Canadian North, and challenges "Settler State" notions of land tenure, resource extraction, ecological degradation, and Arctic domestication. The presentation will further touch on the video-documenting of a fish-wheel [to catch salmon], and relate this to questions of revitalizing traditional skills, the importance of dogs in the North, and the connection between Indigenous people, animals, the land, climate change, and well-being.

Skolt Sami and the Arctic Ocean Railroad plan

Author: Panu Itkonen (University of Lapland) email
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Short abstract

A new railroad plan threatens the natural environment and the culture of the Skolt Sami peoples in Northern Finland. In this presentation, I discuss elements of the Skolt Sami environmental sustainability in relation to the Arctic Ocean railroad plan.

Long abstract

A new railroad plan threatens the natural environment and the culture of the Skolt Sami peoples in Northern Finland. The Ministry of Transport of Finland has promoted the construction of a 465 kilometers long new railroad between Rovaniemi Northern Finland and Kirkenes Northern Norway. The purpose of the railroad is to improve the "logistical position of Finland". This "Arctic Ocean railroad" is supposed to open a new route from the North to Central and Southern Europe together with a planned railroad tunnel between Helsinki Southern Finland and Tallinn Estonia. However, the Arctic Ocean railroad would distract the "logistics" of the Skolt Sami. It would disturb Skolt Sami people's reindeer, as it would cut through their grazing grounds. In addition, the representative of the Skolt Sami has reminded that the railroad would make it easier to proceed with mining projects in the same area where soil investigations have taken place more than 10 years ago. The railroad plan has put the Skolt Sami quickly into a new situation. I claim that now it could be useful for them to bring forward their own approach to environmental sustainability as the basis of their culture. In this presentation, I discuss how elements of the Skolt Sami environmental sustainability can help to question economic and industrial aims of the ministry in relation to the railroad plan. Moreover, I think that discussion about the elements of environmental sustainability is useful, even if the Arctic Ocean Railroad was not constructed.

Axis and Borders: patterns of spatial organization of herding and hunting in Northern Landscapes

Authors: Konstantin Klokov (Saint-Petersburg State University) email
Vladimir Davydov (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography) email
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Short abstract

Do the lines on the earth point the direction to move, or are they boundaries restricting movements? The authors' field studies discuss the paradoxical character of the perception of space by different groups of northern population and by animals living in the symbiotic relationship with people.

Long abstract

According to the fundamental Tim Ingold's idea on two various patterns of perception of the environment, northern pastoralists, perceive space as a point-axial structure. By contrast, representatives of Western culture perceive the land as a number of plots divided by boundaries. The authors' field studies discuss the paradoxical and ambiguous character of the perception of space by different groups of northern population.

Thus, fences can either continue natural landscape boundaries, or in opposite, artificially dissect the natural landscape into separate parts depending on different types of reindeer husbandry. Lines of traps can follow rivers or watersheds or, on the contrary, cross them.

The industrial infrastructure transforms living landscapes of reindeer herders and forces them to adapt to new spatial patterns. Infrastructure objects can be interpreted in different mental contexts, which change their role in the life of pastoralists. Depending on the context, they can play for herders the role of the axes, as well as the borders. The role of infrastructure lines depends not only on the mentality of people, but also on the cognitive abilities of animals living in the symbiotic relationship with people. Thus, due to the peculiarities of reindeer herd's behavior a pipeline raised above the ground on the poles ceases to be an obstacle for the movements of individual animals, but works this way for the reindeer herd. Therefore, a herd grazing nearby a pipeline can be easily dissipated.

In this sense, infrastructure reshapes the physical space and changes patterns of both humans' and animals' movements.

'I think because of the highway there is no caribou sometimes': Changing hunting practices along the Dempster Highway

Author: Erin Consiglio (University of Aberdeen) email
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Short abstract

The Dempster Highway has provided access to caribou hunters from all over the Yukon, however, some Gwitchin elders claim they are not following traditional rules of respect. Development proposals in the area include new access roads, leading to a request for better monitoring of hunters.

Long abstract

The Vuntut Gwitchin of the northern Yukon have relied on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for generations; today, the herd is vulnerable to oil development in their calving grounds on the coastal plain in Alaska, and in their winter range around the Eagle Plains region of the Yukon. Oil exploration in Eagle Plains has already resulted in a network of roads and seismic lines, and Chance Oil and Gas has applied for additional permits to expand their exploration in the area. Migrating caribou have been known to travel along roads and follow seismic lines as these flat, open areas allow for faster and easier movement. However, roads allow easier access to hunters as well, who are able to travel further and carry more. This increases hunting pressure on the herd, and has also changed the way people hunt. Since the opening of the Dempster Highway, there have been complaints about incidents of 'disrespectful' hunting, including hunters leaving parts of the caribou behind or taking more than they need; if hunters are disrespectful, the caribou might not return. The development proposal for Eagle Plains includes plans for six new access roads from the Dempster Highway, and there is some concern about how to prevent these problems on the new roads. This paper will examine some of the ways that roads have changed traditional hunting practices in Vuntut Gwitchin Traditional Territory, and some of the solutions Gwitchin have suggested for enforcing hunting regulations on roads, including hiring more local wildlife monitors.

Crisscrossing life. (In)visble lines of oil, power, and belonging in Northern Alberta, Canada

Author: Lena Gross (University of Oslo) email
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Short abstract

This paper will investigate questions of scale, intimate and alienated space, hidden histories inscribed in the land, and issues of settler colonialism and belonging in Northern Alberta, Canada in the context of the oil sands industry.

Long abstract

Indigenous and non-Indigenous inhabitants of Northern Alberta live next to one of the largest extractive projects of our times, the Canadian oil sands. They have to reconcile living both in an industrial hub area and in the middle of the northern bush, navigate between intimate landscape and changed or lost space, and experience being constrained by denied access and industrial infrastructure, simultaneously being surrounded by seemingly endless boreal forest and wetlands. Northern Alberta is often characterized as (resource) frontier and wilderness, however it has been the homeland for its Indigenous population for thousands of years. Visible lines, such as roads, pipelines, etc, but also invisible ones that separate white from Indigenous space, wilderness from domesticated or industrialized areas, and resource rich land from wasteland crisscross the area, often overlapping, undoing, or enforcing each other.

Using theories of space, power, land(scape), ruination and belonging (such as Basso, Descola, Gupta and Ferguson, Povinelli, Preston, and Stoler), I will argue that industrial infrastructure is, indeed, not simply a disruption, but rather a part of a northern homeland. The different lines crossing the land can be read as inscriptions of history, describing power relations in a settler colonial space, and telling us about belonging and alienation, of petro-capitalism and globalisation.

Paths, forest roads and roads as different ways of perceiving the landscape and exploiting resources: the Sámi case in Finnish Upper Lapland

Author: Nuccio Mazzullo (University of Lapland) email
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Short abstract

In the presentation I will describes how paths,forest roads and roads afford different possibilities to access resources and are fundamental for the perceptions of the landscape.Official maps are important tools to describe them.Only those authorized to make maps though can influence these processes

Long abstract

Sustainable development is very important topic particularly nowadays when industries and national states around the world are competing to get access to the Arctic and its resources. Finnish Upper Lapland region is currently at the centre of new development plans, along with existing forestry and reindeer herding, that include mining, new tourist destinations and even a new railway line connect Rovaniemi to the Arctic Ocean.

Drawing on long-term fieldwork conducted at different times in the past 25 years I shall highlight how the perception to landscape and resources has been changing from one based on paths, to forest roads and then to asphalt roads. By focusing on ethnographic evidence from the Sámi reindeer herding communities in the Finnish Upper Lapland region, I shall show how these changes are influencing local communities and their livelihood. I shall also show how local people resistance to these changes has helped to halt, albeit temporarily, some of these plans, as in the case of commercial forestry in the area around the village of Nellim. In this particular case, the reindeer herders were able to stake claims by using the language of modern cartography, which is not without pitfalls, in the safeguarding of Sámi indigenous livelihoods.

Trails and Roads: dialectics between Métis and oil company movements in a muskeg environment

Author: Tara Joly (Willow Springs Strategic Solutions, Inc.) email
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Short abstract

This paper describes entangled route-making practices of Métis people and oil companies. I argue that Métis trappers preserve and renew connections to their homelands by maintaining ancestral trails and responding to new extraction-related lines on the land - a process mediated by muskeg.

Long abstract

In northern Alberta, Canada, walking along and cutting trails form the basis of constructing and maintaining Indigenous cultural landscapes. In the last century, many Indigenous trails - which are often part of ancestral traplines - have either grown over due to fire suppression or have become shared with oil companies. Oil companies sometimes convert these trails into winter roads which support speed and movement of heavy equipment used for oil exploration or extraction. Conversely, some Métis trappers use cutlines created by company contractors to travel, set traps, hunt, and gather plants. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork with the Fort McMurray Métis community, and centres on an Elder's argument that the prevalence of muskeg (boreal peatlands) in northern Alberta prohibited settler-industrial development until methods of road construction overcame these wet environments. I compare Métis and state-sponsored narratives of movement along routes (e.g., trails and roads) in oral storytelling and written documents, respectively. As an impediment to road construction, muskeg is at the heart of the tensions between different routes and the spatial-temporal movements they afford. I contend that road construction is a power-laden activity that affords opening of access to the landscape for oil sands developers and closing of access for Métis individuals. However, Métis trappers maintain connections to their homelands by adapting to and using these new lines on the land where possible. As oil companies and Indigenous communities build and move along lines on the land together, tensions proliferate between speed and slowness, opening and closing.

Straightness in a bendy world: the effects of seismic lines in a siberian taiga community

Author: Evelyn Landerer (University of Lapland) email
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Short abstract

In this paper I want to show how seismic lines influence every day life in a hunting and reindeer keeping community in the siberian taiga with special focus on forest infrastructure (e.g. trails and camps), movement and human-animal relations.

Long abstract

In this paper I want to show how seismic lines influence every day life in a hunting and reindeer keeping community in the siberian taiga with special focus on forest infrastructure (e.g. trails and camps), movement and human-animal relations.

The first wave of seismic lines logging started in the late 1970s in this research area which is a dense taiga ecosystem with patches of tundra and bogs. This constituted the first time that straight lines have been introduced in an otherwise bendy and interwoven world lived in by mainly local Evenki who keep reindeer and hunt sable and moose. With the second wave of logging lines having started around 2010 an extended grid of new and old logged tracts, called 'profili', now profoundly influence the locals perception and use of the forest. Trails and trap-lines are being abandoned, reindeer and dogs are taught different skills and young hunters have learned to use the lines to an extent that they would claim, 'we do not walk in the forest, we walk on profili.'

Making, following and keeping trails in the Mackenzie Delta

Author: Franz Krause (University of Cologne) email
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Short abstract

This presentation provides some preliminary reflection on the ways the Inuvialuit and Gwich'in inhabitants of the Canadian Mackenzie Delta make and use trails.

Long abstract

Trailmaking is a quintessential activity for the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit inhabitants of the Mackenzie Delta in Arctic Canada. It is necessary for visiting camps and towns, hunting, trapping and other livelihood activities, and for developing and performing a sense of belonging and identity. This presentation provides some preliminary reflection on the ways these people and the animals they hunt and trap make and use trails. It discusses three observations: 1) very often, making trail involves following existing lines in the landscape, including river courses, seismic lines or animal tracks. 2) Therefore, once a trail is made, it invites others to use it too, both human and non-human, which is of strategic importance in trapping, but can cause tensions with other travellers. 3) Trails need regular maintenance during the season and over the years, which makes trailmaking an ongoing activity. These observations lead to a reflection on how inhabiting the Mackenzie Delta involves a combination of following others and finding viable paths.

'They go to the reservoir now': Changing geese migration in Wemindji, Northern Quebec

Author: Gioia Barnbrook (University of Aberdeen) email
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Short abstract

Hydro-electric development in Northern Quebec is impacting on the lines of travel taken by migrating geese. This paper describes how some Cree hunters are responding to these changing flight paths, discussing how not only terrestrial but also aerial lines are affected by hydroelectric development.

Long abstract

The vast network of dams, pylons and roads that support the James Bay hydroelectric project in north-western Quebec cuts across land that has been the territory of James Bay Cree for millennia. This land supports a wide variety of animals that are important for the Cree, but of particular significance for coastal communities are the thousands of migrating geese that use this coast as a flyway each spring, and that have been a crucial source of meat for communities. Since the construction of the hydroelectric dam, local communities have seen significant changes to the migration patterns of geese. Comparatively few geese travel down the coast now, with many instead choosing to flying over the hydroelectric project's vast reservoirs, their flight lines in many ways mirroring the physical infrastructure far below them. In response to these changing flight patterns, hunters are changing their own travel locations and routes, moving their goose camps in order to continue to "meet" the geese on their way north. Many hunters now travel south, on the very roads created during the construction of the hydroelectric dam, for more reliable hunting opportunities. This paper will discuss the changing travel-lines of both people and geese in this region, with particular reference to conceptions of animal decision-making and perception. Arguing that our discussion of lines should be expanded beyond the terrestrial to include the aerial, this paper offers an ethnographic example of the significant changes the criss-crossing infrastructure of hydroelectric development can bring.

Modern land use and economy of forest Nenets in the zone of industrial development

Author: Elena Volzhanina (Institute of the problems of the Northern development SB RAS) email
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Short abstract

The presentation raises questions of traditional land use and economy of forest Nenetses known as Vyngapur Nenetses, whose hunting and fishing territories and nomadic routes, are in the zone of industrial development.

Long abstract

This research is focused primarily on the small local group of Nenetses from the Pur forest. The territory inhabited by the Vyngapur Nenetses was one of the first in the Iamal-Nenets District to attract oil and gas development companies in 1970's. At present, there are many towns in the region dedicated to Oil and Gas extraction where shift workers have settled. The region is divided into east and west parts by the Surgut railway - Novyi Urengoi. All of Vyngapur Nenetses are fishermen and reindeer-herders. Today, the Vyngapur Nenetses have a settled and semi-nomadic way of life. Employment in the agricultural sector and the possession of reindeer herds has had the effect of conserving some of their traditional camps. However, some of families lost their reindeer herding skills including the construction of traditional dwellings (especially the winter chum). These new phenomena have shortened the nomadic routes and people now stay in the same camp for a long time (20 and more years) and build cabins and various other non-mobile dwellings. This type of settlement was not typical for Nenets camps in the past when the only permanent dwellings would have been the accommodation trailers left behind by geological survey parties and expeditions The present land use and economy of the Vyngapur Nenetses is the result of the local group's adaptation to the changing ecological, social, economic and ethnic conditions brought about by the influence of industrial development in the last third of the 20th and in the 21st centuries.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.