Pattern + Currents: Looking to Beringian Ecologies
JOIN US for two presentations that examine Beringia and Alaska as a contextual framework to explore the dynamic relationships between humans, cetaceans, oceans, and landscapes within the slippery milieu of icy geographies.
Bathsheba Demuth is an Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University and the author of the book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. She discussed how along the Bering Strait, on the edges of what is now Northwestern Alaska and Northeastern Russia, Inupiaq and Yupik have hunted bowhead whales on the sea ice for millennia. In the 1840s, Indigenous hunts were joined by commercial whalers from New England, killing to fill whale oil lamps. Demuth asks: How did whales respond to the pressures of market hunting? What might we learn about the histories of fisheries from taking seriously the actions of bowheads and the knowledge of peoples who have known them the longest?
Jen Rose Smith (dAXunhyuu [Eyak, Alaska Native]) is an Assistant Professor of Geography and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She traced out how scientific and cultural imaginaries of ice landscapes have shaped and informed processes of racialization in the Arctic and specifically in Alaska around the time of its purchase from Russia in 1867. Further, she examined how historical processes of racialization have enacted dispossession of land and territory for Indigenous peoples in the Arctic and how it continues in ongoing forms.
Bathsheba Demuth is an Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University, where she specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her multiple-prize winning first book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait came out with W.W. Norton in 2019. Demuth holds a BA and MA from Brown University, and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker.
Jen Rose Smith (dAXunhyuu [Eyak, Alaska Native]) is an assistant professor of Geography and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current book project foregrounds analyses of colonialism and empire in relation to ice and frozen geographies. You can find her work in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.