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About the Hearth

About the Hearth: Perspectives on the Home, Hearth and Household in the Circumpolar North

David G. Anderson
Robert P. Wishart
Virginie Vaté
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    About the Hearth
    Book Description:

    Due to changing climates and demographics, questions of policy in the circumpolar north have focused attention on the very structures that people call home. Dwellings lie at the heart of many forms of negotiation. Based on years of in-depth research, this book presents and analyzes how the people of the circumpolar regions conceive, build, memorialize, and live in their dwellings. This book seeks to set a new standard for interdisciplinary work within the humanities and social sciences and includes anthropological work on vernacular architecture, environmental anthropology, household archaeology and demographics.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-981-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Population Studies, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Chapter 1 Building a Home for Circumpolar Architecture: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Robert P. Wishart

    The hearth is at the centre. It is a simple statement with profound implications. As Stephen Pyne (1995: 3) reminds us, humans are ‘uniquely fire creatures on a uniquely fire planet’. And yet the hearth, the place where we ignite and tend to so many of our fires, is not simply a container for, or a site of, this particularity. Take, for example, the hearth as philosophized and mythologized by the ancient Greeks. Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, was also the goddess of the home, architecture and the symbolic and ritual centre of the inhabitants, the ‘oikos’ or household...

  6. Chapter 2 The Conical Lodge at the Centre of the Earth–Sky World
    (pp. 11-28)
    Tim Ingold

    In the grounds of Tromsø Museum, a conical tent or lodge had been erected of a kind traditionally used among indigenous, forest-dwelling peoples right around the circumpolar North (Figure 2.1). The frame was made of long, stout wooden poles that converged at the apex, but splayed out at ground level around the perimeter of a circle. This was covered with laboriously prepared caribou skins, carefully sewn together. Although extending all the way to the base of the frame, they reached not quite to the apex but to a level just short of it, leaving the apex itself uncovered. Entering through...

  7. Chapter 3 Mobile Architecture, Improvization and Museum Practice Revitalizing the Ttįchǫ Caribou Skin Lodge
    (pp. 29-53)
    Thomas D. Andrews

    In recent years, museums have become more attuned to community desires to interact with objects in their own ways (Fienup-Riordan 2005: xvii), providing opportunities for both indigenous people and museum staff to learn valuable lessons about their own practices. This chapter is focused on one such project, the revitalization of a Ttįchǫ caribou skin lodge. The lessons learned from this project were crucial to the way that the skin lodge has now become embedded in Dene practice and has been given a new life. By facilitating community access to objects in ways that stretch the boundaries of museums – by taking...

  8. Chapter 4 Building Log Cabins in Teetƚ’it Gwich’in Country Vernacular Architecture and Articulations of Presence
    (pp. 54-68)
    Robert P. Wishart and Jan Peter Laurens Loovers

    The introduction of the log cabin as a type of housing in the Canadian sub-arctic has been positioned as an indication of the far-reaching implications of culture change during the Canadian fur trade. Indeed, cabins have been part of a larger narrative about the apparent radical departure of Canada’s northern Aboriginal peoples from a land-based, foraging economy.

    We would like to argue that this is far too simplistic an argument, at least for the Teetƚ’it Gwich’in with whom we have worked. The rise of log cabins as a dominant housing type can be located historically in the cultural exchanges that...

  9. Chapter 5 The Mobile Sámi Dwelling: From Pastoral Necessity to Ethno-political Master Paradigm
    (pp. 69-79)
    Ivar Bjørklund

    One of the main goals of the Home, Hearth and Household project was to look into the organizing principles of mobile dwellings and their functional, cosmological and political contexts. Furthermore, focus was set on the silent knowledge displayed by these dwellings, and the project thus aimed at reviving some of this knowledge through the involvement of indigenous craftsmen. Following this strategy, a Sámi traditional winter tent was constructed by a couple of older Sámi reindeer herders and through this process further information was gained about both the historical and political dimension regarding the use of these tents.

    The tent used...

  10. Chapter 6 The Devitalization and Revitalization of Sámi Dwellings in Sweden
    (pp. 80-102)
    Hugh Beach

    This chapter analyses the determinants of change to dwelling types, their placements and timing of use among Sámi reindeer herders in northern Sweden over the last 35 years. I document this period, 1973–2008, from my first-hand participant observations (although with shifting intensity), affording grounded detail to complement theoretical discourse. I also contextualize this period by looking back on the history of architectural types in the region up to the seventeenth century. Naturally, the price of such detail, accrued over such a stretch of time, demands that one concentrates on one place. Therefore the focus of this chapter is on...

  11. Chapter 7 Family Matters: Representation of Swedish Sámi Households at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 103-122)
    Isabelle Brännlund and Per Axelsson

    Western nations have long used censuses to gain detailed information on the people residing within their administrative borders. These demographic records are very informative and are used extensively in decision making and when drawing up policies and projections. At the same time, Benedict Anderson and others have argued that statistical records and the identity categories they create are important devices employed by the colonial state to impose a totalizing, classificatory grid on its territory, allowing claims of total control. This has been displayed as the most basic of powers: a power to name, to categorize and thereby to create social...

  12. Chapter 8 The Life Histories of Intergenerational Households in Northern Norway 1865–1900: Gender and Household Leadership
    (pp. 123-151)
    Hilde L. Jåstad

    Since the early 1970s, there has been a broad consensus among family historians that the nuclear family was the dominant way that people organized themselves in western Europe and the United States. These historians assumed that when the children grew up and became independent they would establish their own ‘independent’ households.¹ They thought that the elderly would continue to live in their own homes as long as their health permitted. Then, when the aged were too frail to remain independent, they were thought to be ‘reincorporated’ back into the household of one of their adult children (Laslett and Wall 1972;...

  13. Chapter 9 Hunters in Transition: Sámi Hearth Row Sites, Reindeer Economies and the Organization of Domestic Space, 800–1300 A.D.
    (pp. 152-182)
    Petri Halinen, Sven-Donald Hedman and Bjørnar Olsen

    During the Viking Age and the Early Medieval Period, Sámi settlements over the vast interior region of northern Fennoscandia were extensively restructured. Habitation sites were established in areas that were rarely used for settlements previously. These new sites began to display new and distinct features in terms of the organization of domestic space. Hearth row sites are the most conspicuous expression of this new settlement pattern. They consist of large, rectangular hearths organized in a linear pattern (Bergman 1989; Hamari 1996; Hedman 2003; Hedman and Olsen 2009). This restructuring of settlement patterns, which also included the establishment of the so-called...

  14. Chapter 10 Building a Home for the Hearth: An Analysis of a Chukchi Reindeer Herding Ritual
    (pp. 183-199)
    Virginie Vaté

    Numbering today about 15,800, Chukchis live in the Arctic reaches of north-eastern Siberia, a region of open tundra bounded to the east and north by coastline. For about three centuries (Vdovin 1965: 4, 14), Chukchis, taking advantage of this environmental diversity, have been split between two distinct socio-economic groups, comprising inland reindeer herders (Savsu)¹ and coastal sea-mammal hunters (Aηqal’yt). This complementary ‘ dual model subsistence’ (Krupnik 1998) has enabled the Chukchi to specialize in different activities, while maintaining access to maritime and terrestrial products through regional exchange networks.

    Despite the effects of collectivization during the Soviet period, the division of...

  15. Chapter 11 The Perception of the Built Environment by Permanent Residents, Seasonal In-migrants and Casual Incomers in a Village in Northwest Russia
    (pp. 200-222)
    Maria Nakhshina

    This chapter explores the population dynamics of the village of Kuzomen’ in the northwest of Russia with respect to the attitudes people from the village hold towards their homes. I examine the centrality of houses in people’s everyday interactions with the built environment and I demonstrate that these interactions differ between permanent dwellers and various incomers in the village.

    Apart from the social club and few shops, people’s houses are the only built spaces in Kuzomen’ where interaction with the wider community takes place. Kuzomen’ is thus typical of what Wilson (1988: 4) calls a domesticated society, which ‘relies to...

  16. Chapter 12 The Hearth, the Home and the Homeland: An Integrated Strategy for Memory Storage in Circumpolar Landscapes
    (pp. 223-248)
    Gerald A. Oetelaar, David G. Anderson and Peter C. Dawson

    The structure and symbolism associated with the home, the hearth and the landscape often serve as key metaphors within a people’s cosmology. Conversely, the cosmology provides the interpretive framework for understanding the landscape and a blueprint for designing and constructing the home and the camp. In this way, the identity of the group and its association with a particular homeland is constantly reinforced through ideological threads extending from the home to the camp, the landscape and the cosmos. Using examples from two societies in the circumpolar north, we will attempt to illustrate how the cosmology and social organization of Inuit...

  17. Chapter 13 The Fire is our Grandfather: Virtuous Practice and Narrative in Northern Siberia
    (pp. 249-261)
    John P. Ziker

    The story continues with the man from the Middle World trying to communicate with the Lower World people. When he talks, they hear the fire crackle. The Lower World people make sacrifices to the fire, but these do not help, and the fire continues to crackle when the man from the Middle World talks. He sits in theirchum,hungry, while a Lower World woman makes soup out of bones. When the Middle World man touches one of their reindeer, it falls down and dies. When he sits next to the daughter, she falls ill. The Lower World family observes...

  18. Chapter 14 Home, Hearth and Household in the Circumpolar North
    (pp. 262-282)
    David G. Anderson

    The title of this chapter, and that of the four-year research project that it represents, is an attempt to draw attention to circumpolar idioms of dwelling within the humanities. The idea of viewing social life through the frame of a house is an old one in comparative ethnology, given new life in anthropology by the influential collection edited by Janet Carsten and Stephen Hugh-Jones (1995a)About the House. Building on Lévi-Strauss’ (1982) concept of house societies, they argued that an ‘alternative language of the house’ could reinvigorate comparative anthropological research much in the same way that work on embodiment and...

  19. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 283-288)
  20. References
    (pp. 289-312)
  21. Index
    (pp. 313-324)