This 6-year project aims to co-ordinate field research in each of these fields to elaborate a new model of emplaced human-animal relations evoking recent theoretical concerns of the definition of the person, the attribution of agency, and renewed attention to ‘built environments’. The project will work inductively from empirical observations in seven field sites across the circumpolar Arctic from the Russian Federation, to Fennoscandia, to Canada. The circumpolar Arctic originally provided many of the primary thought experiments for classic models of cultural evolution. It has now again become the focus of powerful debates over the balance between the protection of cultural heritage and the development of natural resources to fuel a future for industrial economies. The human-non-human relationships chosen for study cover the full range of theoretical and political discourse within the sciences today from primary encounters in domination to contemporary bio-technical innovations in farming. The team will transcend typical ‘existential’ models of domination between people and animals by describing complex social settings where more than one species interact with the cultural landscape. The team will also challenge existing definitions between wild and tame by instead examining what links these behaviour types together. Further, the team members will examine how domestication was never a sudden, fleeting intuition but rather a process wherein people and domesticates are sometimes closer and sometimes farther from each other. Finally, the research team, working within the above mentioned literatures, will develop a renewed model – a new way of describing – these relationships which does not necessarily rely upon metaphors of domination, competition, individual struggle, origins, or hybridity. The strength of the team, and the principle investigator, is their demonstrated ability to carry out fieldwork in this often difficult to access region.
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