ID:24 Thriving Arctic Communities: Towards Post-Pandemic Resurgence

24 February 2023 | 08:30 - 10:00 (GMT+1) 

Open Session - HYBRID


Room: Hörsaal 5


Session Conveners:  Andrey Petrov (University of Northern Iowa, United States); Marya Rozanova-Smith (The George Washington University, United States)


Session Description

Compared to the rest of the world, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Arctic communities faced an extremely challenging situation given their socioeconomic, cultural, and demographic uniqueness and issues related to remoteness and connectivity. This panel aims to bring together diverse expertise in order to advance the knowledge about opportunities, approaches and policy options for attaining community thrivability in the Arctic beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Thrivability is understood as a community’s ability to thrive, i.e., continuously and sustainably improve human wellbeing. In response to the COVID-19-related changes, the panelists will share their visions and practical examples of good COVID-19 mitigation and reopening practices, existing plans and strategies, including socioeconomic measures, cultural resurgence, sustainability efforts, public health and other public policies designed to strengthen resilience and ensure that communities are thriving after the COVID-19 pandemic or should another pandemic arise. We invite contributions from different Arctic regions and communities, and Indigenous scholars and community members are especially welcome.



  • unfold_moreThe impact of COVID-19 on food access for Alaska Natives in 2020: Learning from Infrastructure gaps and institutional responses

    Noor Johnson1; Kaare Erickson2; Mary Beth Jager3
    1University of Colorado Boulder; 2Ikaaġun Engagement; 3University of Arizona


    The Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network brings together Indigenous researchers and community leaders from the Arctic and Southwest along with non-Indigenous researchers to exchange knowledge and innovations related to Indigenous food and knowledge sovereignty. In 2020, IFKN began a project to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on food access for Indigenous individuals in Alaska and the Southwest. The study drew on the connections of network members and on the framework of relational accountability that emphasizes the importance of people and place. In this presentation, we will share what we learned about COVID-19 and food access for Alaska Natives in 2020, highlighting the ways that individuals, and institutions responded to provide greater access to food as well as barriers and challenges, such as infrastructure limitations, that made it more difficult to access food under pandemic restrictions. The study highlights the importance of thriving food sharing networks and practices in Alaska. We will also reflect on the benefits of a trans-regional approach (Alaska and the US Southwest) and how it created opportunities to deepen an understanding of how food access is affected by legacies and continued practices related to colonial governance.

  • unfold_moreResurgence of Chinese Arctic Tourism? Imaginations, Infrastructures and Anticipation in the Context of Northern Finland

    Ria-Maria Adams
    Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology


    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, national airline Finnair linked almost a dozen cities in Greater China directly to Helsinki, which offered easy onward connections to Rovaniemi. But while European tourism to the hometown of Santa Claus has rebounded, the Chinese government’s continued border restrictions have led the country’s total outbound tourism numbers to drop from 155 million in 2019 to 20 million in 2020. In fact, some of the infrastructures and services established to support the ‘Polar Silk Road’ of tourism is now being used by other tourists. This presentation explores, how “imaginary infrastructures” have been made real through the lens of Santa Claus and Northern Lights tourism in Finnish Lapland, and how the Chinese tourism have shaped the city. The destination also continually and proactively reshapes the experiences that it offers, from package tours to packaged landscapes – in anticipation of what their customers desire. The challenge is to understand how existing and planned tourism infrastructures will contribute to sustainability and the resurgence of Arctic cities such as Rovaniemi. Moreover, this research explores, how tourism adds to the thrivability of Arctic towns. Through ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of policy documents, this presentation highlights the entanglements of infrastructural dreams and realities, and how the effects of the collapse in the tourism dimension are affecting, both local residents and tourism operators.

  • unfold_moreArctic conferences are not in the Arctic. What about for the Arctic regions?

    Daria Mishina
    University of Lapland


    There is only one type of places, where representatives of Arctic institutions and indigenous peoples, businessmen and businesswomen, politicians, scientist and young researchers from different Arctic fields, activists and Arctic enthusiasts could meet and even find something in common – these platforms are Arctic conferences and forums. There are three participatory biggest international Arctic platforms: Arctic Council, Arctic Circle Assembly and the International Arctic Forum. However, there are hundreds of different sizes, thematic, formats, and attendance of Arctic conferences. If before the global pandemic the number and variety of Arctic conferences were constantly increasing, during and after the pandemic there was a rapid fall of all offline events. But what are the impacts of these experiences and what is the value of holding these conferences for the Arctic itself? Therefore, this article examines and analyzes the correlation between number of Arctic conferences, that were held specifically in the Arctic and in central regions in Canada, Finland, Norway and Russia within 2012-2021. The data collection results identify the difference in numbers, participants, focuses, investment, and potential regional impact between conferences in the regions and those in centers or major cities; in order to answer the question - would the increasing number of Arctic conferences increase the Arctic regional development? Additionally, the article highlights potential losses of the Arctic regions because of organizing international Arctic events outside of the Arctic region.