skip to primary navigation skip to content

Research seminars in Polar Social Science and Humanities 2004/5

Research seminars in Polar Social Science and Humanities 2004/5


Community-based research in northern settings: negotiating collaborative models

Tuesday, 5 October 2004, 2:30-3:30pm, Seminar Room, Second Floor

Professor Nancy Gibson, Canadian Circumpolar Institute

A medical anthropologist, Dr. Gibson is Science Director of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute and Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Health Promotion Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. Dr. Gibson provides leadership in consolidating northern research at the University of Alberta, and developing multi-disciplinary research programs to address issues raised by northern community research partners. Dr. Gibson's research program relates to communities undergoing rapid transition resulting from relocation to a new environment, or from industrial intervention in their near environments. Her focus includes Aboriginal and immigrant populations in Canada, and displaced populations in West Africa. Dr. Gibson has worked on international health projects in India, Guatemala and Sierra Leone, and has advised local, county, provincial and national governments on health programs. Her research is collaborative, participatory and community-centred. She also is interested in the ethical implications of participatory research.

History of Arctic Conservation

Monday May 16th

Dr. Urban Wraakberg (Swedish Programme for Social Science Research in the Polar Regions) will be discussing his pre-circulated paper (attached), 'Nature Conservation and the Arctic Commons of Spitsbergen 1900-1920.'

Professor Bill Adams (Geography, Cambridge) has agreed to act as the discussant. We wish to encourage broad participation and anticipate examining the paper's themes in the wider comparative context of conservation history in other regions of the globe.

The seminar will take place in the Lecture Theatre at the Scott Polar Research Institute, on Monday May 16th at 3pm.

All visitors are welcome. For more information contact Dr. Michael Bravo (mb124), Scott Polar Research Institute.

Living with Animals & Spirits in Siberia

Tuesday May 17th

Piers Vitebsky will be giving a seminar at 7:30pm in the Lecture Theatre speaking about 'Living with Animals & Spirits in Siberia'.

Presentation of work in progress by PhD students in the area of emotions and personhood

Friday 3 June 2005

Discussant: Professor Jean Briggs (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Jean Briggs is a pioneer of the study of language and emotion among the Inuit, and is the author of Never in anger and Inuit morality play

12-1 Janne Flora Suicide, despair and reincarnation in Greenland
1-2.15 Lunch
2.15 Olga Ulturgasheva Between despair and optimism: young people's projections of their own future among the Eveny in northeast Siberia
3.15 Kostas Zorbas Shared feelings between shaman, clients and ethnographer in Tuva, Siberia
4.15 Tea

The seminar will end in time to allow people to go on to the regular 5pm seminar in the Department of Social Anthropology.

Embodiment, Disembodiment and Altered States of Consciousness in Yanomami Shamanistic Initiation

Dr Zeljko Jokic, University of Sydney, Australia

Wednesday 15 June 2005, 12.30 - 2.30pm

Dr Jokic did his PhD work in Amazonia and next week will begin new fieldwork studying shamanic worldviews on Yamal Peninsula in the Siberian Arctic in the company of Leonid Lar, a Nenets shamanic artist from that area.

Dr Jokic will present a phenomenological interpretation of Yanomami shamanism, and the subsequent discussion will consider parallels and differences between forms of religious sensibility in the two regions.

The main aim of shamanistic initiation among the Yanomami people of the Upper Orinoco River region in Venezuela is the metamorphosis of the human body into a Cosmic Body, or what I term the 'corporeal cosmo-genesis'. During the initiatory ordeal, the neophyte undergoes an intense experience of death through dismemberment by the spirits, and subsequent rebirth, thus overcoming the human condition and becoming an individual living spirit. But at the same time, he becomes a 'collection' of other spirits who leave their natural habitats - located on the mountain tops and in the forest - and move into the initiate's body which becomes their abode. As the candidate surrenders his soul and humanness to the spirits, the latter become his personal allies and sources of power while at the same time imbuing the shaman's post-mortem ego with certain properties that can best be described in holographic terms.

Transformation of the human condition during initiation, through the fusion of body and cosmos, is manifested on two levels. On the micro-cosmic body-level, the shaman's body becomes a micro-replica of the Yanomami universe, consisting of distinctive body-structural components, embodied by the master shaman, such as the path of spirits, communal spirit-house, and Cosmic Mountain among others. At the same time, the candidate's ego-consciousness undergoes radical transformation of self-perception and mode of being as it expands beyond its usual body-self boundaries into a cosmic, all-embracing open mode, becoming unified with the external dimensionality of the macrocosm. The body, in this sense, becomes a medium for embodiment and manifestation of a larger structure of the Yanomami cosmos. It is through mediation of the shaman's body that the physical features of the Yanomami life world intersect with the invisible world of spirits.