Field Research Grants

Emma Gilheany, Anthropology


My research examines colonialism and climate change in Nunatsiavut, the Inuit self-governing region of Labrador, Canada. Through archival, ethnographic, and archaeological research, this project will create an anthropologically-informed environmental history that can illuminate past and present landscape practices as both resilient to climate phenomena and resistant to local missionary attempts at control. In the past four decades, circumpolar sea-ice has shifted dramatically, with Labrador’s coastal ice declining by almost 40%. This project argues that the colonial entanglements in Nunatsiavut are not limited to the Moravian missionaries and scientists who first began frequenting the area in 1752, but include larger global histories of capitalism and industrialization. Broadly, I contend that one must historicize climate change beyond contemporary crisis to fully understand its resonances.

I ask: What is the nature of colonialism in the Arctic? How did people in the past respond to the intrinsically connected forces of colonialism and climate change? How do contemporary communities that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and that are seeing tangible differences in their environment, imagine, experience and adapt to these changes? This project is uniquely situated to take perceived difficulties in Arctic research and use alternative archival, ethnographic, spatial and organic evidence to recast historical agencies and clarify the dynamics of complex circumpolar landscapes.

Emma GilheanyEmma Gilheany is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She is an archaeological anthropologist who explores how the material record can be used to re-theorize settler colonialism in North America. Her current research examines ecological histories, indigenous resistance, and religious/scientific experimentation in Arctic and Subarctic landscapes. She is particularly interested in the ways that archaeological epistemologies can intersect with and serve Inuit sovereignty initiatives.