Conversations North November 2017

November 1
Unnatural Resources: The Stories People Tell about Polar Environments

Historical and contemporary sites and practices of resource extraction across Polar environments can be seen as ways of ordering the world that foreground the tenuous and negotiated livelihoods available to residents of lands affected by extractive industries. Polar environments are also witness to a reconfiguration of ideas, narrative and stories about space, territory and place, as well as a range of anticipated futures. As geographer Emilie Cameron notes in Far Off Metal River, “stories are material ordering practices” and that “‘storying the North’ has been implicated in opening the region to imperial capital.” Thinking out from their own experiences of sites and practices of extraction across circumpolar environments, Mark Nuttall (Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair, Anthropology) and Rafico Ruiz (Banting Postdoctoral Fellow, Sociology) will discuss what Polar resource stories matter today, for and by whom they’re told, and what material ordering practices they are giving rise to.





November 22
Local scale climate vulnerability: The case of Nome, Alaska
Climate models forecast further increases in temperature, more extreme weather events and a rise in sea-level, which will result in greater risk to northern coastal communities. Planning for climate change adaptation is under represented in local government, particularly in the north, as is empirical (key actor) research that critically investigates the decision dynamics around why and how communities incorporate planning for climate adaptation into policy and practice.
Jeff Birchall (Assistant Professor, Urban and Regional Planning Program, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) will highlight findings from his research into the motivational factors (e.g. slow v. immediate threats), extent (e.g. embedded v. appendage actions) and nature (e.g. reactionary v. anticipatory) of adaptation planning in Nome, Alaska. As the intent of the research was to be investigative and probing, it included semi-structured interviews with a range of local government officials.