CALL FOR PAPERS – History of Arctic Anthropology

Close of call: Tuesday 1 October 2019
Date of Event: Thursday 27 February 2020
Location: Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT

The Royal Anthropological Institute is pleased to announce a one-day conference on the History of Arctic Anthropology. Potential speakers are welcome to consider any aspect of this question, whether in terms of subject, epoch, national or linguistic perspective.


Confirmed speakers include Professor Tim Ingold (Aberdeen) and Professor Peter Schweitzer (Vienna) who will speak on “Histories From the North and "Anthropology and the North” respectively.

The Arctic – or as it is commonly known in anthropological circles, the northern circumpolar region – holds a special place in the history of anthropology, from the turn of the twentieth century, when such giants as Franz Boas, Knud Rasmussen and Valdemar Bogoras were laying the foundations of ethnology, right down to the present day. It was one of the principal settings for the great debate between evolutionism and diffusionism that dominated the early decades of the twentieth century, here focused on the origins and spread of reindeer domestication. More recently, the region has been at the heart of inquiries into relations between humans and non-human animals, particularly in contexts of hunting and herding, of the revival of interest in animism and shamanism, of discussions concerning the constitution and significance of traditional ecological knowledge, and of efforts both to recognise indigenous relations to land and water and to reconcile these relations with rights and responsibilities of citizenship, governance, and environmental management. Today, anthropological research in the Arctic is at the forefront of international efforts to address the human causes and consequences of climate change. For all these reasons, it is high time to take stock of the history of Arctic Anthropology, and to consider what pointers it gives us for the future.

The seminar will take place at the RAI’s rooms. There is no conference fee, and refreshments will be provided on the day. The RAI may consider subsequently publishing the papers provided that the participants on the day should wish to do so.

Paper proposals should take the form of a title and abstract of no more than 150 words, and be sent to admin@therai.org.uk

So that we can plan, and accepted participants can prepare, it would most helpful to receive these abstracts soon, and not later than 1 October 2019.

Informal inquiries may be addressed to admin@therai.org.uk