Marianne Elisabeth Lien, professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo (UiO), served as a CAS project leader during the 2015/16 academic year. Her project, Arctic Domestication in the Era of the Anthropocene, sought to better understand domestication by studying marginalised sites in the Arctic and beyond.

A few years after their stay at CAS ended, Lien and the rest of her research group are continuing to publish research based on their work at the Centre. Last fall, they released Domestication Gone Wild: Politics and Practices of Multispecies Relations (Duke University Press), an anthology with chapters contributed by several of the former CAS fellows. More publications are forthcoming. 

Lien looked back on her stay at CAS in an interview last month.

Why did you apply to CAS?

I had planned to apply for a couple of years when David Anderson, an anthropologist, invited me into a project on domestication that was turned down by CAS in the final round. Shortly afterwards, the project received ERC funding, David moved to the UK, and suggested that I developed the idea for another round with CAS. I kept some core ideas while changing others, reflecting my own research interests. We received funding the next time around with a wonderful group of scholars, my dream team!

What do you remember best from your year at CAS?

The atmosphere of quiet concentration, combined with intense engagement, laughter, and spontaneous discussions. Being uninterrupted by other tasks was also a rare gift. I would like to mention also the remarkable support from the administrative staff. I have never felt so strongly that my research conditions really mattered to others. The administrative staff did everything they could to make our work situation smooth and enjoyable. I felt like a ‘princess’ – it was amazing. But my fondest memory is the time spent with some truly amazing scholars. I recall our regular visits to the nearby bakery where we often had our most important discussions over a cup of coffee and a scone.

How did your project develop after the year at CAS?

Our book Domestication Gone Wild: Politics and Practices of Multispecies Relations came out a few months ago. Although it was finalised at CAS in 2016, the final rounds of editing and reorganising material took time, but it was worth it, and the book is now an important and original contribution to our field. Additionally, we have two edited special issues in the pipeline, in addition to numerous single-authored publications. The post-CAS period has been challenging, however. The sudden intensity of teaching and administration slowed down my progress, and finalising these projects took longer than we had thought. On the other hand, new collaborative constellations emerged as a result of CAS, leading to several research proposals, one of which received RCN funding just last month.

What advice do you have for future CAS project leaders?

A year is actually very short. Plan realistically, and try to finalise as much as possible by the end of the year. Coordinating a group takes time, and as a project leader, you have less time at your disposal than you might think. We had lots of activities, which was inspiring, but also demanding. Try to delegate specific tasks to other long-term participants in the group, so that your own precious time for research does not get caught up in too much administration. But most of all: Enjoy. Leading a CAS project is a true gift.