Department of Culture and Learning

CIRCLA holiday greetings 2021

CIRCLA holiday greetings 2021

While 2020 (really!) turned out differently than expected, 2021 also offered plenty of unforeseen experiences for CIRCLA. As our customary CIRCLA Holiday Greetings will demonstrate, CIRCLA members were to continue old and pursue new activities - online as well as physically. In this Christmas medley, we are happy to share with you some of the various research and collaborative activities, which made 2021 a memorable year! Thank you all for your team efforts and collaboration. See you again after a hopefully peaceful holiday and New Year.

Is there a doctor present…?

Indeed! 2021 saw the successful defense of not one, not two, but three CIRCLA PhD students. In March, Naja Carina Steenholdt defended her dissertation entitled “Subjective Well-being and Quality of Life in Greenland” and was later robed with the beautiful and enviable seal cape of Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland at the yearly PhD ceremony in Nuuk. A month later, Daniela Chimirri held an online defense of her thesis “Studying Tourism through Collaboration in Greenland. A social practice approach.” The defense took place during her maternity leave, what an accomplishment! Last but not least, Verena Huppert Karlsson defended her thesis, "Salary is not the solution to everything: Job attribute preferences of employees in Greenland and implications for employer measures to attract and retain employees”, 1st of December, this time physically in Aalborg. CONGRATULATIONS ALL!


CIRCLA projects

As always, the year saw both hellos and goodbyes to Arctic projects.

The members of the ARCTISEN project, developing culturally sensitive tourism in the Arctic, all hoped to meet physically in Rovaniemi in October to close the project properly after three years. While it unfortunately turned into a digital event due to corona, CIRCLA research assistant Elsbeth Bembom was able to travel to snowy Rovaniemi to host the event together with Emily Höckert and Randy Bruin from a studio at the University of Lapland.

The project Muskox Pathways. Resources and Ecologies in Greenland kicked off 2021 with a 2-days online research seminar titled “Muskox: between Wild and Domesticated”. The event gathered close to 50 participants working on different aspects of muskox lives. Through rich discussions, muskox ecologies were approached from among others anthropology, genetics, biology, archaeology, environmental history and conservation, and the muskox emerged as a being of multiplicity and concern in times of environmental and societal changes. As the pandemic allowed fieldwork in autumn, Astrid O. Andersen (AAU) and Janne Flora (AU) undertook ethnographic fieldwork in Kangerlussuaq and Ittoqqortoormiit respectively. The ethnographic fieldwork focused on the social life around the muskox, and their resource politics, and engaging with muskox stakeholders with a view to establish collaborations.

Astrid O. Andersen also carried out the project Locating Arctic Sustainabilities Online (LASSO) in collaboration with Andreas Birkbark and Mathieu Jacomy from the Techno-Anthropology Lab. The mapping project, commissioned by Arctic Consensus, used big data to map content from 5000 homepages to understand how stakeholders talk about sustainability in an Arctic context.

A first scoping visit for the FACE-IT project was finally enabled in Ilulissat during the summer. While covid still imposed restrictions of the activities, Naja Carina Steenholdt and Lill Rastad Bjørst were able to gain first insights on the relationship between climate changes and livability for community members. Unfortunately for CIRCLA, Naja decided later in the year to pursue other interests outside of academia. We thank her for her time with us and wish her all the best in the future. We hope to get a chance to collaborate again in the future!


CIRCLA TRAVELS and activities

In the summer, the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions allowed for the hosting of a physical conference to commemorate the 300 years of Hans Egede’s arrival to Greenland. The organizing committee would like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who contributed and followed the conference Greenland-Denmark 1721-2021, and to the conference partners: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the National Museum of Denmark and Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Approx. 300 participants from Greenland, Denmark and the rest of the world attended the conference with a broad program embracing Arctic humanities and social sciences research. The Minister of Education and Research, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, also rightly emphasized in her speech the importance of humanities and social science research.

As we had the pleasure to announce last Christmas, Lill Rastad Bjørst was selected to be part of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative III. This October, she met up with other Fulbright scholars at the Arctic Circle and will travel later in 2022 to the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College. From early January 2022, Carina Ren will be traveling to Tromsø, enjoying a semester of research leave at UiT/The Arctic University of Norway.

UArctic enables researchers to apply for funding through North2North staff mobility funds. Helene Pristed Nielsen received a grant enabling her to spend 12 productive days at Fróðskaparsetur Føroya/University of the Faroe Islands in late November 2021. Besides pursuing collaboration with colleagues at the university, the main purpose was the PhD workshop “Reflexivity in research: PhD workshop on field relations and methodological reflections”. Seventeen attendants from Fróðskaparsetur Føroya and Aalborg University worked with qualitative research in contexts ranging from entrepreneurship to social work. The workshop enabled engaged discussions on researcher positions in the field, insider/outsider relations and the ethics of doing fieldwork in small scale settings, where informants are likely to know each other (and maybe even know the researcher!) in advance. What better place than the Faroe Islands to discuss such issues!

November was also the time for the second Greenland Science Week, well attended by CIRCLA members. Besides the main Arctic Research Days conference, the Science Week offered CIRCLA researchers the opportunity to organize and take part in sub-events for projects such as Sustainable Arctic Cruise Communities, Imagining Independence - Greenland's Postcolonial Politics of Comparison and the network project The Polar Code and Maritime Safety: International Network on Emergency Preparedness and Occupational Health and Safety in Arctic Shipping.

As a way to make our work even more visible, a new roll-up was produced for use and sharing at conferences, seminars and events. Isn’t it great?


Snippet from the CIRCLA roll-up

Arctic studies

The Master students on Arctic Studies are also pursuing new deeds. The specialization welcomed 15 new students this autumn and, happily, we were able to meet IRL rather than Zoom for the ‘Cultures, Societies and Histories of the Peoples of the Arctic’ course. As usual, the group is a wonderfully motley crew of nationalities and languages from different Master’s programs (CCG, DIR, ES, Tourism).

In the autumn, the entire group visited the Greenlandic House in Aalborg -- many thanks to Bo Albrechtsen for hosting and enlightening us about the work done at DGH, and about Greenland culture and society, generally. Frederik and Jacob from Arctic Consensus inspiringly introduced their organization and to their work on sustainability and in the EU.

In further collaboration with our tried and trusted partner Arctic Consensus, we are currently developing a catalogue for AS and CCG students in which Arctic Business Network companies advertise internships and proposals for collaborative project and thesis work. We expect to be ready to launch the catalogue in late February, in time for students to develop project ideas with the companies, and for fruitful internship dialogues to emerge in good time before the 9th (autumn) semester.


Arctic and friends

The ‘core’ of CIRCLA is composed of associate professors Lill Rastad Bjørst (head), Robert C. Thomsen, Mette Simonsen Abildgaard and Carina Ren. What really makes CIRCLA ‘CIRCLA’ however are the great many AAU and other colleagues, research collaborators and stakeholders in and around the Arctic that make our research possible, relevant and impactful. Thank you to AAU Arctic, TANT-LAB, Arctic Consensus, Innovation Greenland, Arctic Hub, Det Grønlandske Hus in Aalborg, NUKIGA, Innovation South Greenland, Sermersooq Business, DIIS, Tusass and many others for sharing, thinking and working together with us. Lastly, a great and warm thank you to Sophie Rud and Elsbeth Bembom, who as student helper and research assistant respectively make things we do in CIRCLA physically possible and digitally visible. As Elsbeth leaves us in early 2022, we hope it to be a ‘so long’, not a goodbye!

Happy holidays!

- Centre for Innovation and Research in Culture and Living in the Arctic -

Contact CIRCLA

Research Coordinator Lill Rastad Bjørst
Lill Rastad Bjørst, Head of Research Group
Kroghstraede 3 - 3.232
9220 Aalborg East

Phone: +45 5355 2095