Hannah H. Voorhees

Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar


Anticipating Endangerment: Dilemmas of Cultural and Biological Diversity in the “Long Emergency” of Arctic Warming in Northwest Alaska

Hannah H. VoorheesHannah H. Voorhees Photograph by Jason S. OrdazHannah H. Voorhees Photograph by Jason S. Ordaz

Ms. Voorhees’s dissertation takes an anthropological approach to questions of climate justice in the Bering Strait region of Alaska. In 2008, polar bears became the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to climate change. However, because federal biologists have little influence over the “political” problem of greenhouse gas emissions, traditional hunting by Alaska Natives—a secondary source of polar bear mortality—became the focus of “stop-gap” conservation. This ethnography is based on two years of fieldwork at the intersection of wildlife biologists’ conservation efforts and indigenous struggles to maintain autonomy over traditional hunting practices—a defining element of indigenous identity. Ms. Voorhees attends to the ways in which diverse claims to “the right to exist,” for both cultural and biological modes of life, are being conceptualized, debated, and triaged within the shifting temporal horizons and conservation imperatives that characterize climate change and its governance in the Arctic.

Affiliation at time of award:
Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Sponsored by Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Foundation

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