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Details of participants and Abstracts

Details of participants and Abstracts

Vanda Broughton

I am an academic and researcher in the field of controlled vocabularies, particularly those based on the principles of facet analysis. I have considerable experience in the design of documentary classification schemes and thesauri, and in methods of tackling the problems that arise in dealing with items that are semantically complex, or that present particular difficulties of organization and retrieval.

My work is mainly with the second edition of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification (BC2), a very large faceted vocabulary. I have also been associated for some years with the Universal Decimal Classification, a scheme which is used in several museum libraries, and which appears (because of its analytico-synthetic nature) to be a suitable medium for the description of physical objects as well as texts and digital resources.

My recent research has considered the appropriateness of these techniques for digital object management, including their application to the organization, description, and retrieval of images. Particular concerns for the management of digital resources of this kind include the difficulty of establishing the significant characteristics of these objects (being aware that this may differ with the context or end user), and, because of their uniqueness, the problem of providing for both the depth (specificity) in description, and the breadth of subject coverage required. The issues encountered here appear to be similar in nature to those currently experienced in the museum environment, and I would welcome the opportunity to explore this area further. The complexity of potential relationships is particularly interesting to me, as is the discovery of alternative views of classification, other than the conventional discipline-based systems normally employed for the arrangement of texts. This concept of alternative narratives is an exciting one, as the potential for varying the criteria on which a classification is based is central to the idea of a faceted classification. I would be greatly interested in the opportunity to gather other views of this variability, and to ivestigate the ways in which I can bring knowledge from my own field to engage with, and contribute to, the key concerns of others.


Facet analysis and the museum object

Facet analysis is a technique developed in the library sector for the design and creation of subject organization and retrieval tools using rigorous logical and structural principles. While such tools have conventionally been applied to the organization of textual material, and its description for retrieval, there is now much interest in their application to a wider range of resources, and the challenges and opportunities that this poses for the designer, indexer, and end-user.

Facet analysis provides a robust methodology for the creation of such subject related systems, given that it employs a sophisticated theory of the nature of relationships between classes, and allows for very precise categorization and specification of these relationships. Fundamental subject structures created on this basis can be output in various compatible formats including that of the thesaurus, which is currently regarded as particularly appropriate to the description and organization of artefacts.

Recent research work done here at UCL in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Data Service has shown the potential of faceted systems for the management of digital objects in a cross-sectoral environment, particularly where the objects to be described are of complex semantic content. Similar techniques have been applied in the design of museum object image databases and their online interfaces, and the faceted approach has been shown to be effective in automatic query formulation and modification when used in combination with thesaurus keywords attached to artefact collections.

The paper will demonstrate the way in which these tools operate to reveal semantic content. It will also show they are particularly appropriate to the complexity of semantic metadata associated with the physical object, providing multiple routes into content, and supporting cross-domain searching.

Ms. Ericka Chemko has been the Project Manager for Inuit Heritage Trust Inc. (Iqaluit, Nunavut) for the past four-and-a-half years. She has recently moved to the UK to pursue her Masters Degree in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.


Inuit Heritage Trust, "Moving Forward: Heritage Sector Strategy", 2005

Inuit Heritage Trust, "Moving Forward, From Plan to Action: Heritage Sectors Training Plan", 2007

Building Capacity and Awareness in Nunavut's Heritage Sector

The arctic has long held the imagination of explorers and residents around the world. This imagination encouraged many 'waves' of foreign visitors to the arctic including whalers, traders, hunters/trappers, missionaries, R.C.M.P. and government administrators. Each of these contacts and periods of colonization have resulted in mutual cultural exchange and adaptation. While visitors left items, technologies and values with Inuit, visitors took away information and objects during the past few hundred years. These objects and sources of interaction and cultural knowledge (ex. diaries, maps, and images) are currently in repositories around the world, many of which are located in the United Kingdom. Many of these collections are inaccessible to Inuit today.

In 1999 Nunavut became Canada's newest territory, based on the acknowledgement that Inuit had a unique right to govern themselves, which was based on Inuit cultural identity. Even though heritage and culture has been the defining and legal base for this new territory, the heritage sector as a discrete identity has not received a lot of support in a thoughtful, coordinated way. The challenge is to combine what is known culturally (day-to-day) in a way that is presentable and conscious to those in Nunavut who are working in Nunavut's heritage sector.

The most important approach to ensure success in developing Nunavut's heritage sector is from the inside out. Thoughtful individual and community capacity building would need to occur in a step-by-step for the sector to develop organically, according to the needs of those who know the reality. This process has the power to place Nunavut as a current and integral part in Canada's heritage sector as well as encouraging stronger ties internationally. In the current political and developmental context of the territory of Nunavut, it is challenging to focus consistent energy into any one area to see meaningful development.

Since 2004, Inuit Heritage Trust Inc. (IHT) has taken a leadership role in providing this focus to develop Nunavut's heritage sector. The first coordinated effort to connect heritage stakeholders from across the territory was in August 2004 when Canadian Heritage arranged a pan-territorial conference call. From this call, IHT decided that a strategy, based on the diverse needs of Nunavut's heritage stakeholders, would help the sector to move forward and for IHT to better fulfill its mandate. IHT then applied for third party funding to create a pan-territorial strategic plan. The face-to-face meeting at the end of the project was the first time those involved in heritage were in a room together. The importance of meeting each other, sharing our challenges and working on a coordinated way to overcome our challenges produced an amazing goodwill towards working together, regardless of our own differing cultures.

At the end of this first project, IHT realized that the momentum should not die but that IHT was in the best position to carry it forward. The biggest step to begin meeting the strategic plan was through training. Thus, IHT ran a second project to create a training plan which was the beginning of human resource development and community capacity building in a focused way for those working in Nunavut's heritage sector. The first phase resulted in a basic museum certificate program and a mentorship program. This project was incredibly successful and the support of those participating in the program fed the momentum to run the second phase of the project which will complete the piloting of the whole training program (eight modules) and the mentorship program.

The future is looking very exciting for heritage in Nunavut. Now that this strong base is being established and lead by those working within, it is only natural that we would shift our gaze from looking within to looking outside - looking to others across the country and the world to find meaningful new ways to connect to our heritage in other places and people who share our passions.

Kenn Harper

I would like to approach participation in this workshop from two distinct perspectives, one historical, the other that of a collector of Polar ephemera.

From a historical perspective, I would like to examine the evolution of Robert Peary's methods of travel in the High Arctic from 1891 to 1909, a development that resulted in the so-called "Peary System." Robert Peary was also an early celebrity endorser of commercial products which he used in his expeditions. I have put together a significant collection of Peary's product endorsements in published advertising, and will discuss this collection to illustrate what it illustrates about his travel methodologies.

Kari Herbert first started travelling at the age of ten months when her father, pioneering explorer Sir Wally Herbert, took Kari and his wife Marie to live with a tribe of Polar Inuit for over two years on a remote island off the coast of Northwest Greenland. Her first language was Inuktun, the local dialect of Greenlandic. At the age of four Kari accompanied her parents on another trip that took them through winter blizzards in a caravan to spend time with the Sami of Lapland. Kari has continued to travel extensively ever since.

Kari is an acclaimed writer and photographer and her work has been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world, including the Sunday Times, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Independent and the Guardian, as well as Geographical and Traveller magazines among many other internationally respected publications. She has had several solo exhibitions of her photography in the UK and Europe.

Kari recently took part in BBC Four's Climate Chaos season, and has taken part in many radio programmes including BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC World Service, and has been interviewed for national newspapers in the UK. She is a popular public speaker and since her first sell-out lecture at the Royal Geographical Society, has gone on to do a regional tour of the UK for the RGS and is frequently asked to appear at literary festivals and events.

Kari's first book - The Explorer's Daughter: A Young Englishwoman Rediscovers Her Arctic Childhood - was published by Viking Penguin on 4 November 2004. The book received outstanding reviews in the national press, and was read by Emilia Fox as 'Book of the Week' for BBC Radio 4 in December. The book tells of her return to the place of her early childhood and her quest to understand her connection to both the wilderness of the High Arctic and its unique people who were once her guardians, friends and family.

Kari is now working on her second book: Heart of the Hero: The Women Behind Polar Exploration. Documentaries of both books are currently under offer and Kari has recently been approached by the BBC and other broadcasters with the possibility of doing other television presenting work. Kari also does voice-over work, with clients such as BBC, Erineve TV, Audio Technica and Bella Pierre Cosmetics. Examples of her presenting and voice-over work can be found at and

Kari is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Explorer's Club, New York.

Carl Hogsden, Research Associate

University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

Carl Hogsden has developed computer applications for the museum sector since 2002. He is currently managing a DCF-funded Arctic project, overseeing significant redevelopment of the Museum's Collections Management System and also working on Pacific Voyaging, a collaborative initiative based at the University of Auckland. His ongoing research interests lie in the use of communications technology to enhance the interplay between people, museums and objects.

Imogen Gunn, Documentation Association- Archives

University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

Imogen Gunn (BA, MPhil) has a background in Archaeological Heritage and Museums. She is currently working at MAA on a DCF-funded project aiming to identify and make available the Museum's material on the Arctic to the descendant community in Nunavut, Canada. This project resulted in the 1934 Wordie Arctic Expedition website, among other deliverables.

1934 Wordie Arctic Expedition led by Carl Hogsden and Imogen Gunn

In 1934 James Mann Wordie led a team of University of Cambridge-based researchers to West Greenland and Baffin Island, Canada; they returned with objects, photographs and journals that contained their impressions of the Inuit communities they encountered. Using these collections, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) has created a web exhibition that traces the Expedition's journey across two countries and explores different areas of Inuit life. The website's intent is not merely to display MAA's collections, but also to encourage visitor contribution. We will be discussing this use of web technology as a means for collecting local knowledge as well as representing the stages of an expedition.

The 1934 Wordie Arctic Expedition website is one example of how MAA is employing technology to gather local knowledge about its collections. We are particularly interested in using this type of exhibition to promote meaningful collaboration with source communities such as those in Nunavut, Canada. Visitors to the exhibition can enhance the existing narrative by posting their own information, opinions and thoughts throughout the site. A touchscreen terminal featuring the live website will also be installed in the Museum's anthropology gallery. In this way, not only will user-response contribute to the web narrative, but the same non-curatorial expression will also be introduced into the gallery space. This approach naturally raises interesting considerations to explore concerning the politics of this endeavor. What content should be considered appropriate and how should the museum respond?

In structuring an object-driven web exhibition, we attempted to simultaneously portray chronological, geographic and thematic narratives. Whilst the overarching framework of the website follows the journey's timeline, enhanced by the use of Google Maps, it is also interspersed with thematic sections concerning Inuit culture and expedition life. We will be discussing the tension that attempting to represent the journey in a variety of different ways within one exhibit can cause.

Prior to this session, it would be helpful if participants could view the website thoroughly so that they can fully participate in this discussion:


Heather Lane is the Librarian and Keeper of Collections at the Scott Polar Research Institute. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 1981 and trained at the British Library. After obtaining a post-graduate qualification in Library and Information Science in Aberystwyth, her professional career has been based in Cambridge, where she worked first as Assistant Librarian at Gonville and Caius College and then as Librarian of Sidney Sussex College. In 2005, she was awarded the English Speaking Union/CILIP Travelling Librarian Award, enabling her to visit other collections in the US, including those in Alaska, Colorado and New York.

The library, museum and archive collections of the Scott Polar Research Institute in the University of Cambridge are renowned for their coverage of British polar exploration and science and are the most comprehensive in the world for information on both the Arctic and Antarctic.

A number of new resource discovery projects are in progress, enabling researchers to gain digital access to art, archival and photographic collections for the first time. The library is also involved in other global information networks including the World Data Centre for Glaciology and the IPY Publications Database. The Institute seeks to provide a long-term repository for all aspects of knowledge and understanding of climate change in the polar regions, to ensure the availability of resources on this subject of current concern and for future research.

Genevieve LeMoine


The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

Bowdoin College

As the curator of The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and as an Arctic archaeologist I have a long term interest in the technologies of polar travel, ranging from the use of sledges in prehistory (with and without dogs) to curation and interpretation of one of Robert E. Peary's 1908-09 North Pole Expedition sledges.

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum faces a variety of issues to be discussed at the workshop. We hope to learn from other participants, but can also offer the benefit of our experience managing and interpreting a collection that includes historic and ethnographic sledges, kayaks, and snowshoes, a variety of models of sledges and vessels, transportation accessories such as harness hardware, and a large archive of historic photographs and motion picture film showing these items in use. Over the past decade our work with these materials has ranged from conservation and housing to working with Inuit elders and other original research in archives, historical societies and private collections in the northeastern US.

At the workshop I will be happy to speak to any of the issues being raised, from our approach to exhibiting and interpreting ethnographic and historic technologies to case studies of research and exhibition issues surrounding specific pieces of equipment.

Polar Transportation at The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

Technologies of polar transportation are integral to The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum's collection, research program, and exhibits. The collections include the Hubbard Sledge, (one of the sledges Robert E. Peary used on the North Pole expedition), a full-size kayak, snowshoes, accessories and clothing, and many models of such equipment, as well as photographs and historic motion picture film of various modes of transportation in use.

As we develop an exhibit to celebrate the centennial of Peary's 1908-09 North Pole expedition, technologies of travel have come to the fore. Two key pieces are Peary's sledge, and his vessel, the SS Roosevelt. These two very different pieces of equipment anchor the upcoming exhibit. Each offers the opportunities to highlight different aspects of the expedition and Peary's career, but each also comes with its own challenges.

The Hubbard Sledge links many of the themes of the exhibit: along with early drawings of sledge designs it epitomizes Peary's long quest for the best equipment; constructed by Matthew Henson, the sledge is testimony to his many skills and Peary's reliance on him over many years; together with a model of an Inughuit sledge it reinforces the importance of Inughuit technology and skills in Peary's work. These will be addressed with supporting materials, including extracts from contemporary journals and publications and motion picture film (of a slightly later date). The challenge with the sledge lies in exhibiting it to best advantage. For 40 years, it was in a glass fronted case, a display that was innovative for its time, but which had long out-lived its usefulness and which, since its environment could not be controlled, was damaging to the sledge itself. For the new exhibit we are have commissioned a freestanding case, with internal climate control (passive), allowing visitors to see the sledge from all sides for the first time in decades, while slowing the inevitable decay of its sealskin lashings.

The Roosevelt similarly reinforces a number of the key messages in the exhibit. Peary strove to perfect all his equipment and this pioneering icebreaker is in some ways the pinnacle of his achievements in this direction, but it is the least well known. Understanding its significance has involved seeking journals, photographs, and logs in archives and private hands, an effort that has paid off in a trove of previously unpublished material that allows as to focus on the Roosevelt as a technological marvel, and on the men who worked on board ship and who played a vital, if often unsung, role in Peary's success. The exhibit uses an admiralty-style model, contemporary photographs and design drawings, and objects associated with it, including the ship's bell.

These are but two examples of the ways The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum has addressed issues regarding exhibiting and interpreting polar transportation equipment. Other approaches include using historic motion picture film, and photographs in both exhibit and research contexts.

Dr. Henrietta Lidchi, Keeper

Department of World Cultures

National Museums Scotland

Chambers Street

Edinburgh EH1 1JF

The workshop comes at a very relevant time, because of our developing plans here at the Museum, and our desire as a Department to re-assess our knowledge and understanding of the collections. Over the next four years NMS is developing galleries amongst which is a gallery dedicated to the relationship between peoples and landscape. One of the collections that we are hoping to feature prominently is our Arctic collection, a collection broadly known but not extensively researched, and a collection which is possibly determined by the consistent interests of the collectors, mostly male, whose focus was broadly "technological". In seeking to display this material, and to dig deeper into the collections history, it is important to consider what kind of narratives they can accurately present not only for the communities to whom they relate, but also to visitors. At this stage in the preparations of the gallery, these are the questions that we are asking ourselves, repeatedly. For example: one of our most important collections is a loan of material donated to the University of Edinburgh by Dr John Rae widow (1894). Previous assessment of Dr Rae's career have argued that his respect of indigenous technologies and means of navigating the landscape were crucial to his success, however his collection seems to demonstrate a desire to preserve technology unaffected by traded materials (eg: metal). Equally in discussions we find there is substantial discussion about the meaning of "technology", namely that there is general resistance to using this as a term except when it denotes high tech, similarly there is discussion about including a skidoo as something that denotes the marking of the land, under the auspices that it will disrupt visitors understanding in a potentially negative way. Consequently a workshop dedicated to the technologies of travel, seems a very apposite way of reflecting on and thinking through the tasks ahead.

Peter Loovers

University of Aberdeen

Doctoral candidate

Not long ago the BBC broadcasted the first 4x4 truck that made it to the North Pole winning from a dog-team. Not long after, the Russians explored the world under the ice and claimed their territorial rights to the North Pole. In both cases, technology was considered to have won from the harsh elements of the Arctic. Two hundred years ago, similar events took place in the North although the modes of transport and the technologies obviously differed. In this presentation I will discuss several people that have travelled in the Northern part of Canada, specifically in the present Gwich'in Settlement Area. Following the theme and the proposed hypothesis, this paper attempts to explore different ways to address travel objects. Put away in the category of miscellaneaous, the objects used for travelling have lost their significance. Whilst reading through several travel accounts the means of transport are recurring themes and of utmost importance. I like to argue that the objects considered to be miscelleneaous in museums have been in fact key to the explorations. I believe that the categorisation is the result of the analogical tradition in Euro-American philosophy and science. To encounter this, an univocal (multi-vocal) approach might be helpful to eradicate the difficulties of considering objects and subjects as one and henceforth explorers and canoes as one. I will elaborate below what I have in mind.

To take the example of the snowshoe a wide variety of activities are included in the actual 'final' product. First, the proper straight birch tree needs to be found. Second, a frame needs to be made that can bend the snowshoes. Third, caribou and moose sinew has to be at hand in order to weave the shoes. Fourth, one needs to be skilful in the weaving. Fifth, one needs to have the proper mukluks or khaiitrih to walk. Sixth, one needs to have the proper material to repare the shoes when travelling. Although, I discuss these few things sterile an entire mesh of relations is taking place and one pair of snowshoes narrates knowledge, enskilment, movements. My point is that any equipment that the explorers used became an essential part of their being and of the journey. The early accounts of Franklin, Hardisty, Bell, and Mackenzie mention the weather conditions, the geographical figures, the conditions and usage of their equipment, and their modes of transport in mixture with social accounts of the party-members and meetings with aboriginal people. It is this blend which reinforces the hypotheses that both knowledge was public and shared, and that the equipment simultaneously belonged in the realm of the material, the object, and the subject and therefore a very clear category or distinction cannot be uphold. In the presentation I will give some historical and recent accounts of essential technologies used and discuss these in terms of enskilment, body and mind movements, and inhabitant knowledge.

Lynn Peplinski, based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, has been researching traditional Inuit place names with a view to getting them onto maps and bringing them to official status, since 1993. For the past six years, she has been with the Inuit Heritage Trust, a Nunavut Land Claims organization whose mandate encompasses issues related to archaeology, heritage and place names.

Reconciling place names in Canada's North

The footprints of early explorers in Canada's north are evident in the toponyms that recall centuries of exploration. Frobisher's Farthest is an island in Frobisher Bay said to be the limit of Martin Frobisher's foray into what he erroneously considered a strait. A popular fishing river near Iqaluit (Inuit name for fishes) is named for Sylvia Grinnell, daughter of Henry Grinnell "generous, esteemed friend" (and financial backer) of Charles Francis Hall who knew "of no fitter name to bestow upon it …[and], with the flag of [his] country in one hand, [his] other in the limpid stream, denominate[d] it "Sylvia Grinnell River."

Yet the land was not an empty land waiting to be named when western colonizing powers ventured in. Rather, the land was alive with names for all places of any significance to the Inuit who'd called this land home for centuries. Completely dependent upon animals, and therefore their knowledge of the land, Inuit naturally communicated about places using place names in their own language. To know the land, to be able to anticipate where the animals were that would feed, clothe, shelter, and provide Inuit with tools, was to survive.

A key difference between the visitors' imposed naming system and the Inuit's is in the direct relationship between the area and its name. With few exceptions, Inuit did not name places for people. Inuit place names describe the geographical or cultural feature of the landscape evoking the significance of the place for hunters and travelers. Across the territory, examples and variations abound of Qikiqtarjuaq (big island) and Tasiujarjuaq (big lake) but so do names which describe fishing lakes and rivers and tidal pools "where the char go to digest their food", walrus haul outs, spring camping areas (seal hunting), caribou hunting areas, hazardous areas (currents), as well as a multitude of other illustrative names.

One of the core principles for place naming in Canada according the Geographic Names Board of Canada is that "First priority shall be given to names with long-standing local usage by the general public." Given that 85% of Nunavut's population is Inuit and as many as 70% consider Inuktitut to be their first language, common sense would dictate that their traditional Inuit place names should appear on maps. The land claim in Nunavut is but one example of the many aboriginal land claims in Canada which include provisions to restore traditional place names to maps. Since January 2006, 400 new names and names changes have been added to Canada's official maps in Nunavut alone, in some cases replacing well known historical names. Hundreds more names have been added to maps in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Greenland, with Home Rule, quickly moved to produce official maps with traditional Inuit/Greelandic names, considered by some "a path of thorns for international users". Inuktitut names, as any foreign names anywhere, may be difficult to pronounce for the uninitiated. Should a subjective judgement about the difficulty to pronounce or remember a place name influence whether a name can be made official? Should historical names be allowed to be dropped from current maps? What are the implications and is there a "right" way to please everyone?

Christopher Jacob Ries

Dept. of Culture and Identity

Roskilde University

For some years now I have taken an interest in early to mid- twentieth century Danish expeditions and fieldwork in Greenland. During this period a significant shift in objectives, methods and technologies of exploration took place. At either end of the chronological and technological spectrum we may identify on the one hand the small nomadic dogsled-type expedition of the 1900's and 1910's and on the other the station-based, scientifically specialised and high-tech mass-expeditions of the 1930's.

While the transition between these two types of exploration was both significant and rapid, it was by no means clear-cut or un-problematic. During this period classic and modern technologies and practices intermingled in the field, while at home new and old scientific institutions and political bodies vied for the authority to describe and define Greenland for Denmark and the world.

My current particular interest is in change and conflict in mapping processes, in light of the interdependent transformations of fieldwork technology and practice, of the scientific and political culture of Danish Arctic science and of the broader social imagination of Greenland in Denmark in the years between WW1 and WW2.

This workshop would seem an ideal setting for me to discuss my current work in a highly interesting cross-disciplinary context. I expect to find my ideas about the scientific, political and cultural meanings and implications of field technology challenged and stimulated in a way that will allow me to develop these perspectives in my future work. If I should be able to contribute to the work of others in the same way, I would be more than satisfied.

Dr. Charles Swithinbank is a Research Associate at the scott polar Research Institute. He has been in polar research as a glaciologist since 1950.

Selected publications

Glaciology. Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic expedition 1949—52; Scientific Results, Vol. 3, Oslo, Norsk Polarinstitutt, 1957-60.

Ice atlas of arctic Canada. Ottawa, Defence Research Board, 1960.

Ice movement of valley glaciers flowing into the Ross Ice Shelf. Science, Vol. 141, No. 3580, 1963, P.523-534.

Radio echo sounding of Antarctic glaciers from light aircraft. International Association of Scientific Hydrology, Publication No. 79, 1968, p. 405-414.

A submarine sonar study of Arctic pack ice. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 15, No. 73, 1975, p.349-362.

Glaciological research in the Antarctic Peninsula. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Vol. 279, No. 963, 1977, p. 161-183.

Satellite image atlas of glaciers of the world: Antarctica. United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386B, 1988, 139pp.

Airfields on Antarctic glacier ice. CRREL Report 89-21, 1989, 97pp. Hanover, New Hampshire, US Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory.

Forty years on ice: A lifetime of exploration and research in the polar regions. Lewes, The Book Guild, 1998.

David Turnbull is a Senior Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Science, Innovation and Society (ACSIS), University of Melbourne and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Science Studies (CSS) at Lancaster University.

His research is focused on knowledge, space and assemblage in comparative knowledge traditions. He is currently working with the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Cambridge on developing a database for their collection that allows for multiple ontologies- a project titled E2D2 Emergent Databasing, Emergent Diversity.

'"Following the tracks": String, stories and paths in the movement, and assemblage of knowledge.'


Arguably there are two key questions at the base of our understanding of human culture, of our production of meaning and artefacts, of knowledge and things– how do they move and how do they connect?[1] The task, for those seeking to understand and re-present our cultural productions, is to establish the relationships that make the assemblages of people, practices and places what they are 'by following the tracks'.[2]

This paper explores the interconnections between knowledge, space and movement by looking at the ways in which they co-produce each other and the kinds of technical devices and social strategies that are deployed in producing such assemblages. It is argued that travelling, or more generally movement is basic to knowledge, and knowledge is crucially shaped by the technologies we deploy to enable it. Knowledge spaces or assemblages are performative complexes of practices, artifacts, and social relations. None of the constitutive elements can be readily separated out as specific artifacts, forms of knowledge or ways of doing things, since they are components of an interactive complex where each part is shaped by all the others. Nonetheless the paper focuses on some specific components in an account of how knowledge, people, and things travel and connect. In particular it makes the argument that string, stories and paths, while largely banal, unheralded and unremarkable, were essential and fundamental socio-technical practices and forms that enabled humans to travel, not only out of Africa in the first instance, but also in all subsequent cultures up to recent times.

The paper starts by establishing the relationship between knowledge, space and movement by taking a hodological perspective– that is through a consideration of 'paths' or 'ways' that are co-produced by people moving and knowing in the environment. It then links this to a recognition of the role of string and stories in joining things and ideas together.

The second half of the paper considers two examples. 1. Otzi the iceman, hereafter 'the string man' since, for he and his fellow Neolithic travelers, string was the key device enabling them to move. 2. The Inca Empire of String, Stories, and Paths; an empire whose success in handling coordinating and assembling the knowledge resources, labour and history of a radically diverse ecology and culture, lay in utilising the tensional capacity for connection of string (quipu), stories, and paths (ceques).


Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers: Comparative Studies in the Sociology of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge, Routledge, London, 2003 2nded.

‘Maps, Narratives and Trails: Performativity, Hodology, Distributed Knowledge in Complex Adaptive Systems­ an Approach to Emergent Mapping’, Geographical Research, vol 45, n2, 2007, 140-9.

'Locating, Negotiating, and Crossing Boundaries: A Western Desert Land Claim, The Tordesillas Line and The West Australian Border’ in Annemarie Mol and John Law eds Special Issue on Boundary Variations, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 23, n.5 2005, 757-70.

'Performance and Narrative, Bodies and Movement in the Construction of Places and Objects, Spaces and Knowledges: The Case of The Maltese Megaliths', Special Issue on Sociality and Materiality, Dick Pels, Kevin Hetherington, and Frédéric Vandenburghe, eds, Theory, Culture and Society, vol .19, nos.5&6 October/ December, 2002, 125-43.

'Narrative Traditions of Space, Time and Trust in Court: Terra Nullius, ‘wandering’, The Yorta Yorta Native Title Claim, and The Hindmarsh Island Bridge Controversy' in Gary Edmond ed, Expertise in Regulation and Law, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2004, pp. 166-83.

‘Travel, Narrative, and Space in the Production of Unified Knowledge in Helmut Heinze and Christiane Weller, eds, Worlds of Reading: Festschrift for Walter Viet, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, 2004, 203-222.

'Travelling Knowledge: Narratives, Assemblage and Encounters', in M-N. Bourget, C. Licoppe and H. O. Sibum, eds. Instruments, Travel and Science: Itineraries of Precision from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, Routledge, London, 2002, pp. 273-94.

Dr. Nancy Wachowich is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Since 1991, she has been carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in the Canadian Eastern High Arctic Inuit communities of Pond Inlet and Igloolik. Her research touches on themes related to Inuit oral histories, ethnohistories, material culture, museums and contemporary media practices.

The lens and the trail: the Danish Fifth Thule Expedition, Igloolik Isuma's video art and new technologies of arctic travel


This paper will explore Inuit video-art re-castings of a 1920s Arctic expedition in relation to the contemporary politics of arctic travel. The years 1921-1924 saw members of the Danish Fifth Thule Expedition journey across arctic America collecting ethnographic knowledge, maps, stories and artefacts from the Inuit who they met en-route. Their first stop, after leaving Greenland, was the Northern Foxe Basin region of the Canadian Eastern High Arctic, traditional homeland of the Iglulingmiut Inuit. More than eighty years later, the Iglulingmiut descendants of those people who they first encountered, the cast and crew of Igloolik Isuma Productions, began using video art to retrace trails historically travelled. Inuit producers, actors, technicians and associated family members travelled to ancestral campsites, re-enacting and digitally recording historical events as documented in the Fifth Thule Expedition journals and remembered in local oral histories. In 2006, Isuma Productions released their feature film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen for international audiences.

The proposed paper will draw parallels between the two arctic expeditions, critically examining the ways in which digital video technology is now being used as a contemporary technology of travel. I examine the relationship between video art, subsistence hunting, artistic practice and social life and reflect on Inuit media practices in the context of lives lived. My contention is that, however important Isuma's productions have become for cultural outsiders, for the cast and crew—by and large the sons and daughters of hunters— video art exists as a means to get people back out travelling and living on the land. Video art is thus being used by Inuit to reconfigure relationships with each other and with their physical environment. Seen in this expansive light, video-cameras become one of many technological innovations that have ensured the productivity of the Inuit hunt since first contact, alongside rifles, wooden boats, snowmobiles and, most recently, Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) technology. I will argue that, in a roundabout way, video cameras have come to fit snugly into the modern Iglulingmiut hunter's toolkit. For many, they have become as essential to life on the land as a good dogteam was in the past.

This paper will open up several themes related to cultural improvisation, historicity, creativity and differing conceptions of technology.



1999 Wachowich, Nancy in collaboration with Apphia Agalakti Awa, Rhoda Kaukjak Katsak, and Sandra Pikujak Katsak. Saqiyuq: Stories from the Lives of Three Inuit Women. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press.

Articles and Chapters:

2006 Cultural Survival and the Trade in Iglulingmiut Traditions, in L. Stevenson and P. Stern (eds.) Critical Inuit Studies: an anthology of contemporary arctic ethnography, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

2004 An overview of Iglulingmiut and Mittimatalingmiut Culture and History. In Isuma Inuit Studies Reader, G. Robinson, ed. Montreal: Isuma Publishing, pp 131-136.

2004 'Ataguttaaluk', in G. Hallowell (ed.) Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.52.

2004 'Qitdlarssuaq (Qitdlak)', in G. Hallowell (ed.) Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.521.

2004 'Taqulittuq (Tookoolito, Hannah) and Ipirvik (Ebierbing, Joe)', in G. Hallowell (ed.) Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.606.

2004 'Tulugajuak, Peter', in G. Hallowell (ed.) Oxford Companion to Canadian History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.624.

2002 'Interview with Paul Apak Angilirq', in P. Apak Agilirq, N. Cohn and B. Saladin d'Anglure (eds.) Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Ottawa and Igloolik: Coach House Books and Isuma Publishing, pp17-23.

1998 'Exhibiting Knowledge: Videoconferencing, the Arctic Odyssey and the Canadian Museum of Nature', in L.J. Dorais, M. Nagy and L. Müller-Wille (eds.) Aboriginal Environmental Knowledge in the North, Québec: Gétic, Université Laval, pp.81-94.

[1] The key question for the history of science is how and why does knowledge circulate? Secord, James. 2004. Knowledge in Transit. Isis 95:654-672.
[2] Pearson, Mike, and Michael Shanks. Theatre/Archaeology. London: Routledge, 2001, 53 'don't begin with what is it, but with what does it connect through its design, exchange, and consumption, with artefact understood as assemblage, the task is to establish the relationships that make it what it is by following the tracks.'