How does overheating affect a vulnerable place like Svalbard?
Longyearbyen: Town of contradictions. Photo: Jakub Žárský.
Today’s world is difficult to describe and comprehend. Various changes (not to say crises) are interlinked and looking for a solution is doomed to failure unless the situation is understood holistically. In this respect, social anthropology has much to offer to the present time – better orientation in the complex social reality that human beings have created throughout the history of culture evolution.
One of the places that undergoes social, economic and environmental changes at a great pace is the town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, in the High Arctic. The research is inspired by the concept of overheating developed by Thomas Hylland Eriksen, describing accelerated change in culture and identity (from Norwegian to multicultural), economy (from coal mining to tourism and research & education) and environment (Svalbard is warming up fastest on the planet).
Finding more about how people living in a globalised and environmentally vulnerable place perceive the overheating processes, how they re-/de-/construct their local identity, how they understand the changing world and interpret their life stories, is important for the present and the nearest global future.
Zdenka Sokolíčková, from the University of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic, is an affiliated researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. boREALIFE has the MSCA Seal of Excellence and is funded by the OP RDE, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. Sokolíčková is based in Longyearbyen for the full 2 years with her family.