Boreas: MOVE


Losing Ground: An Ethnography of Vulnerability and Climate Change in Shishmaref, Alaska

A dissertation defense by Elizabeth Marino

Time: 3:30 pm 

Date: November 27, 2012

Setting: Eielson, Room 304 

For more information see this flyer

MOVE featured in "International Innovation" journal

The research of PL Schweitzer and of the overall project were recently highlighted in the journal "International Innovation." The contribution focuses on the work conducted by the UAF team of "Moved by the State". The article can be found on page 13 of the journal.

Moved by the State: Perspectives on Relocation and Resettlement in the Circumpolar North (MOVE)

A project of the European Science Foundation (ESF EUROCORES Programme BOREAS)
Funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the US National Science Foundation, the Academy of Finland, and the Danish Research Agency.

MOVE is an endorsed International Polar Year 2007-2008 project
(IPY project database #436 )


Migration and resettlement have always been core strategies of survival for peoples of the circumpolar north. In the past, seasonal and more permanent movements in the lives of northerners were usually responses to the local conditions upon which their subsistence lifeways were based. More recently, population movements have been more often imposed as a reflection of policy, reflecting market or state logics of a conspicuously non-local character. As the regions of the circumpolar north are more tightly integrated into the global economy, and the interests of state come to bear more heavily on the organization of settlement in the north, the answer to the question of where people live in the north, or whether they live there at all, is increasingly out of local hands.

Within a common rubric of "state-sponsored resettlement", this project (MOVE) will examine migration in a diversity of sites across the circumpolar north from a ground-up perspective in order to address questions of community sustainability, social fabric and senses of belonging. Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, demographers, historians and community-based researchers, MOVE will for the first time consider in a single research framework Russian/Soviet and Western modes of relocation, as well as indigenous and settler histories of migration.

Moved by the State is a research initiative comprised of five participating projects based in Canada (University of Alberta), Finland (University of Lapland), Denmark (University of Greenland), and the United States (University of Alaska Fairbanks & University of Maryland). Over a four-year project lifespan, field research involving teams of researchers and local collaborators will be conducted in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland and regions of the Russian far North (Chukotka, Magadan, Yamal).

The common objectives of this initiative are:

The documentation of local histories and experiences of migration and resettlement, leading to ethnographically rich and locally relevant portraits of movement and its consequences
Through collaboration and synthesis between projects, a comparative analysis and interpretation of resettlement and migration as a circumpolar phenomenon

Although more detailed research methodologies and objectives will emerge in the first year of this initiative, the participants in Moved by the State are guided by a number of preliminary framing questions, including:

  • Can relocations in the North be conceptually understood as variations on a single theme, significantly different from their “southern” equivalents?
  • Can we view Soviet and Russian modes of relocation as different from those found in democratic market-oriented northern countries? Are there grounds for comparison?
  • What differences do “cultural regimes” (e.g., Inuit versus Russian settler) make in the local reception and eventual outcome of resettlement policies?
  • How is resettlement experienced and perceived today, in comparison with how it is remembered as a past event? What factors influence the trajectory of adaptation and reification as a community and/or individual moves beyond resettlement?
  • How can various methodological perspectives (such as qualitative/quantitative, local/regional, actor/community-centered approaches) be combined to achieve added value?
  • How can northern experiences of relocation and resettlement contribute to our general understanding of similar population movement worldwide?

The ESF EUROCORES Programme BOREAS is a European Science Foundation (ESF) initiative supported by the European Commission, FP6 Contract No. ERAS-CT-2003-980409