Main Keynote: Climate Change and Social Resilience - Lessons form Northwest Greenland

Professor Kirsten Hastrup, University of Copenhagen

The Arctic region is marked by multiple environmental challenges owing to global climate trends. This presentation will analyse a particular case of this and discuss how a social community gradually changes in the process of responding to the challenges. The case is that of the Inughuit in High Arctic Greenland, living with a tangle of changes that reshape their community. The changes relate to climate, politics, living resources, ocean contamination, internet-communication, incoming film-crews, researchers, mining companies, and other factors. Together, they deeply affect the life-world of this small, resilient population, counting some 750 people that until recently were effectively isolated in Northwest Greenland. Locally, there is a sense of living in a shifty terrain of elusive resources, yet also of continuity with the past, and a strong commitment to the hunting way of life. The High Arctic terrain always posed a challenge to human life, and it is argued that social resilience is a matter of flexibility and a capacity to act upon the unexpected. This will be substantiated in the presentation with reference to both past and present challenges – all of them pointing towards more general Arctic trends.