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Forging of cultures in the Circumpolar North – a comparative perspective

  • International Conference

  • September 24-25, 2015 

About the Conference

There has been a longstanding attempt to make cross-cultural comparisons across the Circumpolar North. Close parallels, amounting almost to cultural identity, can be detected in the cosmologies of the various circumpolar peoples; for example, the respectful relationship to prey, the emphasis on the ritual treatment of bones, beliefs in rebirth of the soul/name, shamanic and subsistence practices. However, radical socio-economic differences are also apparent, with the egalitarian hunters and the hierarchical reindeer herders as the most evident distinction. Likewise, major differences exist in terms of ecology. Repeated attempts have been made to understand the tensions between cultural uniformity and diversity. However, polarized analytical models, emphasizing either generic adaptive or particularistic historical mechanisms, often mark such attempts.

Rather than polarizing ‘cultural history’ vs. ‘ecological adaptation’, and with a comparative perspective in view, this symposium explores interdisciplinary pathways to find new answers to old questions about the key drivers forging Arctic cultures. The aim is to improve our understanding of the mechanisms, natural and historical, behind the complex pattern of cultural similarities and differences between the indigenous peoples of this vast region, stretching from Scandinavian Lapland and Siberia over the American and Canadian Arctic to Greenland.


The conference presents a number of prominent speakers from archaeology and anthropology to ecology and health. Our international and interdisciplinary group is well placed to answer the key questions posed at the conference and ultimately connect comparative data analytically and interpretatively to improve our understanding of natural and cultural changes across the circumpolar north. We look forward to welcoming you to two inspiring days at the Moesgård Museum in September! 


The symposium is open and free to attend, but please RSVP your interest so we can cater accordingly at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LWWMHDY