1st Edition

Reimagining Human-Animal Relations in the Circumpolar North

Edited By Peter Whitridge, Erica Hill Copyright 2024
    212 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume provides fresh insight into northern human–animal relations and illustrates the breadth and practical utility of archaeological human–animal studies. It surveys recent archaeological research in northern North America and Eurasia that frames human–animal relations as not merely economically exploitative but often socially complex and deeply meaningful, and attuned to the intelligence and agency of nonhuman prey and domesticates. The case studies sample a wide swath of the circumpolar region, from Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland to northern Fennoscandia and western Siberia, and span sites, finds, and scenarios ranging in age from the Mesolithic to the twenty-first century. Many taxa on which northern lives hinged figure in these analyses, including large marine mammals, polar bear, reindeer, marine fish, and birds, and are variously approached from relational, multispecies, semiotic, osteobiographical, and political economic perspectives. Animals themselves are represented by osteological remains, harvesting gear, and depictions of animal bodies that include zoomorphic figurines, petroglyphs, ornamentation, and intricate portrayals of human–animal harvesting encounters. Far from settling the problem of how archaeologists should approach northern human–animal relations, these chapters reveal the irreducible complexity of northern worlds and highlight the diversity of human and nonhuman animal lives. This book will be of particular interest to northern archaeologists and zooarchaeologists, and all those interested in the possibilities of a multispecies approach to the archaeological record.

    1 Multispecies Northern Worlds: Reimagining Human-Animal Relations in the Circumpolar North

    Erica Hill and Peter Whitridge

    2 Sculpins, Bears, Seals, and Weasels: Late Dorset Miniature Carvings as Indicators of Individual Hunter/Prey Relationships

    Genevieve M. LeMoine, John Darwent, Christyann M. Darwent, James Helmer and Hans Lange

    3 Manufacturing Reality: Inuit Harvesting Depictions and the Domestication of Human-Animal Relations

    Peter Whitridge

    4 Whales, Whaling, and Relational Networks in the Western Arctic

    Erica Hill

    5 On the Long-Term Cultural Significance of the Traditional Yup’ik Walrus Hunt at Round Island (Qayassiq), Bristol Bay, Alaska

    Sean P.A. Desjardins and Sarah M. Hazell

    6 Fishy Relations? Human-Fish Engagement in the Norwegian Late Mesolithic (6300-3900 BCE)

    Anja Mansrud

    7 “Most Beautiful Favorite Reindeer”: Osteobiographies of Reindeer at a Sámi Offering Site in Northern Fennoscandia

    Anna-Kaisa Salmi and Markus Fjellström

    8 Living with Birds in Northwestern Siberia: Birds and Bird Imagery at Ust’-Polui         

    Tatiana Nomokonova, Robert J. Losey, Natalia V. Fedorova, and Andrei V. Gusev

    9 Afterword: Storytelling Animals: Human-Nonhuman Relationships in the Arctic

    Sean P.A. Desjardins and Peter D. Jordan


    Peter Whitridge is Professor in the Department of Archaeology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He has conducted fieldwork in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut (Labrador), and has longstanding research interests in Inuit archaeology and human–animal relations.

    Erica Hill is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Southeast. She is the editor of Inupiaq Ethnohistory and co-editor of The Archaeology of Ancestors. Her research focuses on human–animal relations, animal geographies, and zooarchaeology in northern Alaska.