2023-24 Dissertation Fellow



An Anthropology of Nunatsiavut Icescapes: Practices as Politics

While many scholars consider climate change as a recent crisis of myriad causes, this dissertation historicizes and specifies the way that military occupations (such as the US Air Force constructing and maintaining numerous Cold War radar bases in Inuit communities) in the circumpolar north have changed and harmed local ecologies. I trace how Nunatsiavummiut use capacious future-oriented landscape practices to circumvent this harm. Landscape practices include hunting, but also include building cabins far from the community, collecting water from icebergs, creating community gardens using soil from outer islands, and navigating increasingly unpredictable sea ice. The nature of the material record in the sub-Arctic means that archaeologists often struggle to access residues of the past that disappear with seasonal melting. I take this seasonality as an opening to demonstrate that an extended and multimodal engagement can elucidate absences in the archaeological record. Ultimately, this dissertation contributes to overlapping theoretical (the Anthropocene, human-environment relations, sovereignty), historical (militarization and Indigenous nations, Inuit politics and history from the Cold War to the present, American and/vs. Canadian imperialism) and methodological (collaboration, research as settler colonialism, the limits of historical methods) concerns.




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Emma Gilheany is an environmental anthropologist and archaeologist of the contemporary. She uses archaeological, ethnographic, archival, and multimedia methodologies to rethink how resistance to imperialism has been theorized using the ephemeral material record of the circumpolar north. She is particularly interested in using archaeological epistemologies to intersect with and serve Nunatsiavummiut sovereignty and is committed to public and community-engaged scholarship. Her research has been funded by the Nunatsiavut Government, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC-IDRF), the National Institute of Social Sciences, the National Science Foundation (NSF-GRFP and NSF-GRIP), and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. At the University of Chicago, she has been awarded the Roy D. Albert Prize, and has been supported by the Center for International Social Science Research, the Segal Fund for Social Sciences Research on the Military, and the Arts, Science and Culture Initiative. She earned a BA in Anthropology from Columbia University, where she won the Ralph and Rose Solecki Prize.