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Home, Hearth, and Household in the Circumpolar North BOREAS

Research project Circumpolar indigenous peoples hold their home hearths with special reverence. The hearth is a place where hunters and herders reciprocate the respect granted them by animals by feeding the fire with fat or spirits. This project will place the focal metaphors of hearth, home and household at the centre of a research agenda to understand northern philosophy, cultural resilience, and the use of space.

Through uniting the efforts of indigenous people, museum researchers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historical demographers, we aim to demonstrate the special dynamics of northern households, broadly defined, as well as contribute to the revival of cultural awareness now underway in indigenous societies across the North.Our efforts will aim to elucidate how residential patterns in the North have a long-term time signature. We will narrow the theme by investigating how the use of portable lodges contributes to a uniquely northern narrative. Through the study of space, vernacular architecture, and household dynamics we will identify similarities and differences in the way that northerners interrelate with their landscape.

Head of project

Per Axelsson
Senior lecturer (associate professor), researcher
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period

2007-01-01 2009-12-31

Funding

Finansår , 2007, 2008, 2009

huvudman: Per Axelsson, finansiar: Kungl Vitterhets Akademien (KVHAA) & European Science Foundation, y2007: 100, y2008: 500, y2009: 500,

Research subject

History

Project description

Home, Hearth, and Household in the Circumpolar North


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

Description

Circumpolar indigenous peoples hold their home hearths with special reverence. The hearth is a place where hunters and herders reciprocate the respect granted them by animals by feeding the fire with fat or spirits.
This project will place the focal metaphors of hearth, home and household at the centre of a research agenda to understand northern ecological narrative, cultural resilience, and the use of space. Through uniting the efforts of indigenous people, museum researchers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historical demographers, we aim to demonstrate the special dynamics of northern households, broadly defined, as well as contribute to the revival of cultural awareness now underway in indigenous societies across the North.

This BOREAS project is made up of five participating projects from Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States and includes one associate project from the United Kingdom. Our team will conduct primary research in Canada’s Northwest Territories, in Northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, in the Kola Peninsula, Taimyr, and Zabaikal’e within Russia, and in the National Museum of the American Indian [NMAI] in the USA. We are including in our research programme the active participation of Tlicho (Dogrib) Dene, Inuvialuit, Dolgan, Evenki, and Sámi experts.

Our efforts will aim to elucidate how residential patterns in the North have a long-term time signature. We will narrow the theme by investigating how the use of portable lodges contributes to a uniquely northern narrative. Through the study of space, vernacular architecture, and household dynamics we will identify similarities and differences in the way that northerners interrelate with their landscape.

Although the themes of home, hearth and household have been central themes both in the lives of northern people and in each of our separate disciplines, the ‘state-of-these-arts’ have well documented lacuna in each area. It is widely acknowledged that despite a century of state-sponsored surveys in the Arctic, that we have a poor understanding of the contemporary demographics of northern families (AHDR 2004). The study of homesites and of the hearths of northern aboriginal people has been one of the founding techniques in the history of archaeology, yet many scholars note that we have poor knowledge of the activity patterns and the architecture of these spaces (Kent 1984; Janes 1983; Oetelaar 2000). Finally, although the architecture of the conical skin lodge has become an almost a stereotypical symbol of northern peoples worldwide, craftspeople working with recent revitalisation projects have noted that we know very little of the craftsmanship and broader social relationships embedded in these complex structures (Anderson in prep. Sirina 2002; Sokolova 1999). This project aims to unite a team of northern scholars and craftsmen who have a demonstrated record in each of these three areas to create a set of resources that speak to the themes of Home, Hearth and Household internationally.



IP-04 Sweden KVHAA
Households, technological change and the use of space in Swedish Sápmi

Project Leader: David Anderson
Principal Investigators of the Swedish group:
Per Axelsson and Hugh Beach

The Sami are one of many indigenous peoples in the North living in Sápmi, an area covering the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Both the study of historical demography, and the study of Sámi use of space, have so far been neglected in the academic analysis of Sápmi. The Swedish IP will unite the efforts of a demographer and prominent ethnographer to fill this lacuna.


Activity One: Vernacular Architecture in Sápmi
The goal of this activity will be to demonstrate how social, economic, technological and political conditions are built within the architecture of Sámi households. The basic research will be conducted over two field seasons in Jokkmokk, Staloluokta, Puolemoive, Lillselet, Parka, as well as village sites along Stor Lule and also others within the Laponia World Heritage Site. The methods used are shared with the investigators working with the analysis of space in Canada and in Siberia. Much of the research done in this activity will also be followed up by investigators in Norway.


Activity Two: The Dynamics of Sámi Households
The historical and demographic activity of this IP will study the demographic experiences in a population marked by colonization. This activity, led by Per Axelsson, will use the Swedish census of 1890 to investigate individuals and households in the Swedish parts of Sápmi. The activity will mirror the work being done on the Norwegian and Russian censuses in other IPs. Statistics will be compiled from individual level microdata, combining the information in the census variables. This will for the first time give scholars a regional archive giving a coherent picture of the Sami experience in various countries from the 19th to the 20th centuries. We propose to harmonise the variables between the 1890 census and the Russian and Norwegian data. We also wish to intensively study ethnic markers in Eastern Sápmi