Arctic Domestication in the era of the Anthropocene

Abstract

The history of human civilization is often told through a grand narrative about domestication. This grand narrative tells of hierarchy, domination and control as key elements that enabled humans to conquer and exploit their natural environment. Recent research in archeology, anthropology, history and science studies has challenged this model, and describes historical processes that are gradual, reversible, and involve changes in humans as well as in animals and landscapes, in mutual processes of adaptation. Arctic Domestication in the Epoch of the Anthropocene brings together scholars from anthropology, archeology, history and science studies, with a focus on domestication in the Arctic and the sub-Arctic, as well as selected studies of new or less common domestication practices, such as aquaculture, pastoralism and Tropical swidden cultivation. Arctic landscapes are often marginalized in conventional narratives of domestication, as they represent the climatic boundary of the more common forms of agriculture, and rely instead on gathering, hunting and fishing. There is also often significant interaction between wild and domesticated varieties, making it difficult to draw a sharp distinction between wild and domesticated. Through a focus on domestication practices in such marginalized sites, we will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of domestication. This is precarious in light of the challenges now facing the Arctic in relation to resource extraction and industrial expansion, as well as challenges related to the epoch of the Anthropocene. The project will proved other perspectives, other examples and other stories about human-landscape relations that those assumed in the conventional narrative about domestication.

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