Anthropology professor raises concerns regarding climate change in Greenland

Kirsten Wessel, Staff Writer

Climate change has become a hot topic on campus and around the world. The issue is especially relevant in Greenland, which is home to an ice cap that contains 10 percent of the world’s freshwater supply and is melting quickly and relentlessly. On March 3, Professor Mark Nuttall, the Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, engaged students and faculty in a comprehensive discussion about the social, political, and environmental consequences of climate change in Greenland.

Nuttall touched on a number of aspects of climate change, with a particular focus on how deteriorating conditions and erasure transform culturally rich places into resource spaces or resource frontiers. He also discussed the increasing awareness and interest the Arctic has received across the global stage.

“One of the things that I think have been quite noticeable over the past 10 years or so is an increasingly globalized Arctic, where the Arctic, like the Antarctic, has moved center stage as a region of geopolitical significance,” Nuttall said.

Nuttall noted that the Arctic has recently shifted from a region undergoing dramatic change to one that is now “open for business.”

“He laid out very clearly the ways in which this ‘process of unmaking’ or ‘erasure’—interacting with the uncovering of land as inland ice recedes due to climate change—is framed in a Greenlandic narrative of nation-building, putting a positive spin on resource development and climate change,” Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Amanda Wooden said.

“It was fantastic to hear Professor Mark Nuttall present his work in person, having read several of his articles. His work connects to my research and the work of quite a few other scholars on campus,” Wooden said. “I was particularly interested in his discussion of the process of unmaking places for resource extraction, once those places are represented by companies, government agencies, or touristic bureaus as ‘wilderness areas,’ devoid of human presence, despite their historical, cultural importance and residency.”

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