UCRS hosts an international conference on gender asymmetries in the Arctic

2017-02-16

Starting in the 1980s, social scientists began to be aware of rising gender asymmetries in Arctic communities.

Starting in the 1980s, social scientists began to be aware of rising gender asymmetries in Arctic communities. For example, in some areas of Northern Russia, a ‘gender shift’ has been reported: in the tundra and the boreal forests of northern Eurasia many hunters and reindeer herders live, for much of the year, without their wives and daughters. In Alaska, ‘female flight’ is a wide-spread phenomenon, i.e., women migrating away from remote settlements to larger villages or urban centers. Scholars point out the wider challenges of gender-specific out-migration, with which many Northern and indigenous communities have to cope, such as enforced celibacy and higher divorce rates, decreasing population numbers, masculinization of jobs or conversion to short term shift employment. Further, gender relations in Northern communities are part of broader social relations shaped by ethnicities, sexualities, inequality, and patterns of consumption.

Some scholars suggest that local communities are also undergoing positive changes. For example, indigenous people increase their life options through education and enskillment both in traditional subsistence practices and professional education provided by the state. Further studies emphasize the wide-spread but understudied phenomena of cultural leadership among indigenous women in the North.

Gender asymmetries and their manifold impacts have been the subject of debate among local communities, scholars, politicians, and international organizations, such as the Arctic Council. The global significance of the Arctic, increasingly acknowledged in relation to the challenges of Rapid Climate Change and increasing extractive industries in the North, calls for better understanding of the role of gender asymmetries and shifting residence patterns. This conference entitled “Gender Shifts and Resource Politics in the Arctic” develops these priorities in Arctic research, and contributes to understanding the vulnerability and resilience of Arctic environments and societies in a globalized Arctic. By inviting scholars to share their research in diverse Arctic and non-Arctic communities, we would like to initiate a discussion within a broader geographical range and encourage innovative theoretical approaches to gendered social transformation study in comparative perspective.

The conference will be held 21-23 February in Museum Gustavianum. For more information visit conference website.

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