Arctic Field Projects



Project Title: Food Security and Lactic Bacteria Use in Alaska and the Bering Strait Region (Award# 1418443)

PI: Yamin-Pasternak, Sveta (syamin@alaska.edu)
Phone: (907) 474.6758 
Institute/Department: U of Alaska, Fairbanks, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Colleen Strawhacker (colstraw@nsf.gov)
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):
NSF_Award_Info: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=14...

Science Summary:
The foundation of this work is situated at the crossings of the community and researcher interests in studying the traditional methods of preparing and preserving subsistence products by means of aging and fermentation. Drawing on the insight of first-hand observations the PIs have outlined major areas of concern associated with the preparation of the culturally important aged food recipes in the Bering Strait communities of Alaska and Chukotka, Russia. Broadly, these concerns relate to the challenges posed by 1) contemporary built environments and 2) climatic change, which affect the outcome of fermentation and 3) the need to document and disseminate the investigative approaches implemented by local preparers, as they attempt to understand and adapt their culinary craft to the challenges of the ongoing social-environmental changes. Poor air circulation in interior domestic spaces, groundwater seepage into the permafrost storage cellars, and a range of sensory experiences of aged foods are among the interacting factors surrounding the practices of fermentation. The proposed investigation sets out to explore how the contemporary built environments and cultural values on both sides of the Bering Strait interact with changing climatic conditions to affect fermentation. In collaboration with experts in the participating communities in Chukotka and Alaska, the project team will attempt to develop a systemic framework for considering, as inclusively and comprehensively as possible, the perceived social and environmental changes to which people are striving to adapt as they modify, abandon, or continue to implement various fermentation techniques. The primary data collection will take place in the course of field research in the coastal communities of Enmelen, Sireniki, Novoe Chaplino, Lavrenitya, Lorino, and a reindeer herder camp in the vicinity of Lorino, Russia, and in the Alaskan communities of Gambell, Savoonga, Shishmaref, and Little Diomede. The timing of the researcher involvement in each locale will correspond to a specific set of activities in the cycle of preparing, distributing, and consuming foods made by the means of fermentation. Our data will be gathered primarily through qualitative ethnographic methods. The interpretive framework will be informed by diverse expertise in coastal-marine ecosystems, cold climate architecture, issues of health and environmental pollutants connected with Arctic cuisine, food anthropology, aesthetics, and local ecological knowledge - specialty areas represented by the PI team and project advisors.

Logistics Summary:
The PI will study traditional methods of preparing and preserving subsistence foods in the Bering Strait region of the Arctic by means of aging and fermentation. The investigation sets out to explore how the contemporary built environments and cultural values on both sides of the Bering Strait interact with changing climatic conditions to affect fermentation. During 2015 and 2016, a field team of 2-5 will conduct ethnographic fieldwork in Russia’s Chukotkan communities of Enmelen, Sireniki, Novoe Chaplino, Lavrentiya, and Lorino, and in a reindeer herder camp in the Lorino tundra. In Alaska, they will work in Little Diomede, Shishmaref, Savoonga, and Gambell. On average, the team will spend two weeks in each community. Field work in 2015 will follow this schedule: • Enmelen, Sireniki (timed with the season of consuming lengthily-fermented foods, aged over the course of six months or more) • Little Diomede, June (timed with the transition from whaling to walrus hunting and the first stages of processing the catch) • Shishmaref, May (timed with bearded seal processing and a set of activities known locally as “putting away black meat”) • Lavrentiya (and the nearby subsistence camp Nunyamo), Lorino (and the nearby subsistence camp Akkani), and a reindeer herder camp in the Lorino-Yanrakinnot tundra, July–August (timed with the intense processing of tundra greens, mushrooms, berries, and numerous fish and mammal products). Field work in 2016 is as follows: March - April 2016 • 2 Russian collaborators from the Northwest Public Health Research Center in St. Petersburg working in Chukotka (fieldwork in communities and lab analysis in Anadyr): Enmelen (5 days), Nunligran (5 days), Sireniki (5 days), Novoe Chaplino (5 days), Provideniya (7days), Anadyr (7days) Late May - June 2016: • 2 UAF researchers working Gambell (1 week) and Savoonga (1 week) • 1 UAF researchers working in Shishmaref (1 week) and Little Diomede (1 week) Late May – Early August 2016 • 1 UAF researcher working in Chukotka: Neshkan (30 days), Enurmino (15 days), Lorino – Akani (10 days), Lavrentiya (10 days), Provideniya (10 days), Anadyr (10 days) Late September-October, 2016: • 1 UAF researcher working in Shishmaref (1 week) and Little Diomede (1 week) Under NSF supplement #1650378, the project will return in 2017. Three researchers (including one new grad student) will visit numerous villages to interview elders and collect plant samples.Details of the field work are TBD.

In 2015 CPS will provide fixed wing charter from Nome to Provideniya, Russia; travel tickets to Alaskan communities; subcontract with the Chukotka Science Support Group (CSSG) for work in Chukotka, including but not limited to - travel tickets to communities, local staff support, transportation, and lodging. In 2016 CPS will provide a round trip commercial air ticket between Fairbanks and Anadyr, Russia; travel tickets to Alaskan communities; subcontract with the Chukotka Science Support Group (CSSG) for work in Chukotka, including but not limited to travel tickets to communities, local staff support, transportation, and lodging. In 2017 CPS will provide for Russia: travel, lodging, meals, interview/consulting fees, and guiding via an arrangement with Chukotka Science Support Group (CSSG), one roundtrip charter for two between Nome and Provideniya. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the PI from the research grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2015Alaska - Little Diomede Island06 / 01 / 2015 06 / 13 / 20154
2015Alaska - Shishmaref05 / 25 / 2015 05 / 31 / 20153
2015Russia - Enmelen07 / 26 / 2015 08 / 17 / 20152
2015Russia - Sireniki08 / 17 / 2015 08 / 26 / 20152
2016Alaska - Gambell05 / 30 / 2016 06 / 15 / 20163
2016Alaska - Little Diomede Island09 / 30 / 2016 10 / 06 / 20161
2016Alaska - Savoonga05 / 30 / 2016 06 / 15 / 20163
2016Alaska - Shishmaref09 / 30 / 2016 10 / 06 / 20161
2016Russia - Anadyr05 / 19 / 2016 08 / 19 / 20161
2016Russia - Enmelen03 / 21 / 2016 04 / 08 / 20162
2016Russia - Enurmino05 / 19 / 2016 08 / 19 / 20161
2016Russia - Lavrentiya05 / 19 / 2016 08 / 19 / 20161
2016Russia - Lorino05 / 19 / 2016 08 / 19 / 20161
2016Russia - Neshkan05 / 19 / 2016 08 / 19 / 20161
2016Russia - Nunligran03 / 21 / 2016 04 / 08 / 20162
2016Russia - Provideniya03 / 21 / 2016 04 / 08 / 20162
2016Russia - Sireniki03 / 21 / 2016 04 / 08 / 20162
2017Russia - Akani07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
2017Russia - Enurmino07 / 01 / 2017 08 / 31 / 20171
2017Russia - Lavrentiya07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
2017Russia - Lorino07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
2017Russia - Neshkan07 / 01 / 2017 08 / 31 / 20171
2017Russia - Nunyamo07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
2017Russia - Pinakul07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
2017Russia - Provideniya07 / 02 / 2017 08 / 08 / 20172
 


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