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Arctic Adaptations

Native Whalers and Reindeer Herders of Northern Eurasia

The common view of indigenous Arctic cultures, even among scholarly observers, has long been one of communities continually in ecological harmony with their natural environment. In Arctic Adaptations, Igor Krupnik dismisses the textbook notion of traditional societies as static. Using information from years of field research, interviews with native Siberians, and archaeological site visits, Krupnik demonstrates that these societies are characterized not by stability but by dynamism and significant evolutionary breaks. Their apparent state of ecological harmony is, in fact, a conscious survival strategy resulting from "a prolonged and therefore successful process of human adaptation in one of the most extreme inhabited environments in the world." As their physical and cultural environment has changed—fluctuating reindeer and caribou herds, unpredictable weather patterns, introduction of firearms and better seacraft—Arctic communities have adapted by developing distinctive subsistence practices, social structures, and ethics regarding utilization of natural resources. Krupnik’s pioneering work represents a dynamic marriage of ethnography and ecology, and makes accessible to Western scholars crucial findings and archival data previously unavailable because of political and language barriers.

375 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

History: General History


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