Climate change and other alterations to the Earth caused by human activity are often described in apocalyptic terms: as Armageddon, or the end of the world. Nowhere is this more true than in the Arctic, where the rates of warming are twice that of temperate regions and have been visible for decades. This talk turns to the history of the Chukchi Peninsula, in far eastern Siberia, a place that has experienced radical changes in the past: first with the founding of the Soviet Union and then with its dissolution. Weaving a story of devoted Bolshviks, Chukchi nomads, and herds of reindeer, it explores what kinds of narratives suit the empirical experience of radical change, what is lost when we emphasize rupture, and what is gained by paying attention to the ruins left by past ways of living as we face a transformed Arctic – and planet.
Bio: Bathsheba Demuth is the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University, where she specializes in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her multiple-prize winning first book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait (W.W. Norton) was named a Nature Top Ten Book of 2019 and Best Book of 2019 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal among others. Demuth holds a BA and MA from Brown University, and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker and the Best American Science and Nature Writing.
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