Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Population Dynamics in Greenland - A Multi-Component, Mixed-Methods Study of Demographic Change in the Arctic (Award# 1319663)

PI: Vitzthum, Virginia J (
Phone: (812) 855.7686 
Institute/Department: Indiana University, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Anna Kerttula (
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This award supports research on the social, cultural, environmental and physiological dynamics of pregnancy in an indigenous Arctic population. The project is a 3-year collaborative study focusing on Greenlandic ways of perceiving, understanding and experiencing pregnancy. Greenlander's believe that future generations of Greenlanders and Greenlandic culture and practices are in jeopardy due to a variety of demographic factors including low birth rates. This project will examine the individual, social, cultural, environmental and physiological factors that appear to have the greatest influence on Greenlandic women's and men's reproduction. The research will be implemented in Kullorsuaq in northwestern Greenland and the target population for the study is Greenlandic women and men, ages 15 to 49 years. The project is an interdisciplinary international, collaborative community based participatory research (CBPR) study involving the University of Greenland, local health and community partners in Greenland, Indiana University and Montana State University. The main activities of the research project are: 1) Examine how the individual level characteristics including age, gender, physical and mental health, spirituality, and beliefs about sex, pregnancy, and adoption influence reproductive decision making in Kullorsuaq; 2) Examine how the interpersonal dynamics in sexual relationships influence reproductive decision-making among men and women in Kullorsuaq: 3) Examine the foundational cultural constructs regarding kinship, familial obligations and personhood that influence pregnancy outcomes in Kullorsuaq; 4) Examine how natural and built environmental characteristics such as one's own and one's family's connection to place, the climate changes occurring in the environment and its influence on hunting, as well as the increased oil industry in the area, influence pregnancy outcomes in Kullorsuaq; and 5) Examine whether hormonal contraceptives may be biologically ill-matched to some clients in Kullorsuaq. The project will be implemented using a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) framework. Of particular interest is the combination of the CBPR approach with ethnographic (cultural, natural and biological) and public health methods. Overall the project will contribute to our understanding of the complexity of the factors that may be influencing a declining Arctic population. This research is important for strengthening the scientific collaborations between the United States and a strategic Arctic ally, Greenland. In addition, the information gained from this research will give us critical insights into the effects of global economic forces on the well-being of remote communities. In addition, the interdisciplinary investigation of photoperiod has promise for providing insights into the higher risk of breast cancer faced by women who work in night shift and other jobs that involve changes from a typical daytime work schedule (e.g, airline pilots and personnel, and others with heavy travel schedules), which could lead to low-cost interventions that would reduce the risk of cancer, thereby saving medical costs and increasing economic productivity.

Logistics Summary:
This collaborative study between Rink (1319651, Montana State) and Vitzthum (1319663, Indiana U) will investigate Greenlandic ways of perceiving, understanding and experiencing pregnancy. Researchers will provide recommendations to policy makers for improving Greenlander's reproductive health. Beginning in 2014, this three year study will focus on Greenlandic ways of perceiving, knowing and experiencing pregnancy and contraceptive outcomes. The target population for the study will be Greenlandic women and men ages 15 to 49. Logistics details under 1319651.

SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2014Greenland - Kullorsuaq0
2014Greenland - Nuuk0
2015Greenland - Kullorsuaq0
2015Greenland - Nuuk0
2016Greenland - Kullorsuaq0
2016Greenland - Nuuk0

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