ENCARC

One-day workshop in travel writing

Event Date: 
Sun, 01/06/2014 - 09:00
Venue: 
Leeds Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds
Location: 
Leeds, UK

For anyone who has ever wondered how to break into the field of travel writing, Arctic Encounters is organising an intensive one-day, practice-based event. The day will bring together leading authors, editors, journalists and publishers to discuss what being a travel writer today is all about. The talks will cover how to actually start writing and get published, how to pitch editors and target specific publications, and how to navigate the changing media landscape of journalism and publishing today.

Registration for the workshop is currently open. Due to high demand, a limited number of places are available for attendance. The cost of the day-long seminar is £80; student concessions are £50. For more information or to register, please email Roger Norum (r.norum [at] leeds.ac.uk).

Report: One-day workshop in travel writing

Event Date: 
Sun, 01/06/2014 - 09:00
Venue: 
Leeds Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds
Location: 
Leeds, UK

For anyone who has ever wondered how to break into the field of travel writing, Arctic Encounters organised an intensive one-day, practice-based day bringing together leading authors, editors, journalists and publishers to discuss what being a travel writer today is all about. 

On June 1st 2014, there was a healthy showing of around 30 for a one-day practical travel-writing workshop appended to the ‘Postcolonial Arctic’ conference and expertly put together by ‘Arctic Encounters’ team members Simone Abram and Roger Norum, the latter a published travel writer himself. The workshop was primarily designed to help people looking to break into the highly competitive field of commercial travel writing, with sessions held by leading travel writers and publishers offering tips on how to write effectively, how to get published, and how to navigate the decidedly tricky media landscape of travel journalism today. Audience participants learning the nuts and bolts of travel writing.

The day began with an engaging talk by the English author Kari Herbert, daughter of the great Polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert, who entertained the audience with anecdotes from her childhood in Greenland––a formative experience if ever there was one for her wide-ranging work as a travel writer, adventurer and publisher today. Kari obviously practises what she preaches: openness to the world, but also a pragmatic sense of how to capitalise on one’s own experience of different cultures and, perhaps above all, an unfettered enthusiasm for all the world has to offer to those enterprising and adventurous enough to find out. Kari Herbert growing up in Greenland.

A similar mixture of pragmatism and enthusiasm was in evidence in the second session of the day, led by Duncan Craig, acting features editor for Lonely Planet. Beginning with a hilarious personal anecdote on how not to make a pitch to a travel magazine, Duncan went on to give advice via a sardonically delivered A-Z miscellany of commercial tips aimed both at fledgling writers seeking inside knowledge of the contemporary travel industries and at experienced writers tempted to claim more knowledge than they actually have. This ‘reality check’ was also carried into the afternoon sessions: a brilliant impromptu exercise in how to construct a travel article from scratch by Adrian Phillips, publishing director of Bradt travel guides and an award-winning writer himself; a lively practice session led by ‘Arctic Encounters’’ own resident travel writer Roger Norum, the author of several Scandinavian Rough Guides; and a closing roundtable featuring the combined talents of Adrian Phillips, freelance travel writers Gail Simmons and Lars Jensen (the latter another ‘Arctic Encounters’ team member), and the marketing director of Yorkshire-based travel company Inntravel, Simon Wrench. Adrian Phillips lecturing on travel writing structure.

What emerged from the day, which was greatly appreciated by all those who attended it, was that travel writing might be enjoyable to do, but also requires a hard business head if it is to be commercially successful. Still, the emphasis on enjoyment acted as an effective antidote to those po-faced critics who, like the author of this article, are occasionally tempted to see travel writing as little more than an imperial hangover or an opportunistic accessory to the modern tourist industries it serves.

Report: The Postcolonial Arctic Conference

Event Date: 
Fri, 30/05/2014 - 09:00 to Sat, 31/05/2014 - 17:00
Venue: 
Leeds Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds
Location: 
29-31 Clarendon Place, Leeds LS2 9JT

The Postcolonial Arctic conference held at the University of Leeds in early June was important not merely in terms of offering direction for the 26 early career researchers who presented their work, but also for those of us conducting research as part of the Arctic Encounters project. A postcolonial presence reflects back on how the Arctic has been encountered by many types of travellers, researchers and explorers. Still, we can no longer speak about the Arctic without taking into consideration the humans who live here. Could it be that taking the postcolonial as a point of departure provides us with direction towards specific questions regarding ethics, methodology, as well as the interface of scholarly research and politics?

For a long time, the Arctic as a concept belonged to the natural sciences and to explorers and other travellers. It is worth mentioning that most of these mobile actors were men. The Arctic became an imaginary place in which polar bears were much more present than humans. More recently, researchers from social and human sciences have begun to engage in Arctic research, asking new questions and demanding that others be heard. This is much needed in contemporary developments, as the environmental questions at stake here need human engagement in order to become political solutions.

To explore and come to terms with these issues, Michael Bravo’s opening keynote was of fundamental importance. A crucial challenge – as he sees it – is to develop the context in which emerging voices have a better opportunity to be heard, as well as to enable the articulation of alternative postcolonial framings of northern spaces that move beyond dominant political frameworks. His current project on Pan Inuit trails provides a synoptic view of Inuit mobility and occupancy of Arctic waters, coasts and lands, including icescapes. Bravo thus documents Inuit spatial narratives about their homelands, based on their realities and histories. This project – for us – illustrates how researchers can take on a position of intervention, when engaging with and generating icescapes and landscapes of their own, as well as the “knowscapes” which Arctic people, animals and researchers inhabit.

This brings us to some of the main questions that ran throughout the conference: What is the post-colonial condition or presence in the Arctic? And how is this inflected in the current condition of a looming interest in Arctic geopolitics? There are some paradoxes that have been driving this attention. Researchers obviously create new imaginations of the past and present with respect to what is happening and how the Arctic is plotted on various maps. Arctic sciences were established and developed as a field of research through the specific method and eye of the natural scientist. This is now shifting and new paradoxes are materialising, both physically and politically. As has been noted by Durham University’s Phil Steinberg (one of the conference attendees), geophysical changes generate geopolitical concerns/visions, which are portrayed by many international relations scholars as being in a state of competition in the Arctic. From this perspective, coastal Arctic states are predicted to be self-maximizing actors, especially relating to resource governance (which may well be reproduced as self-fulfilling prophecies by policy makers). How and ‘where’ we place or portray ‘the Arctic’ may then indeed reflect how we construct a geographic region with unsettled boundaries. Or is what we are discussing an imaginary in and of itself: beyond, out of reach, out of time and space hunted by the ill angels as Edgar Allen Poe described in his poem Dreamland?

These paradoxes, themselves in flux, are opening up opportunities for new ways to talk and do research. Human and social sciences are now able to widen the gap between the polar bear and the human, between melting ice and human sufferings and strategies. They also open a space for a more democratic dialogue with people (indigenous or not) for whom the Arctic is home, who inhabit its ‘knowscapes’ (e.g. practices of living off Arctic icescapes and landscapes), and to hear their stories and despair. The new movement into the Arctic can be seen as an opening to establish reciprocity between researchers and those who live in the Arctic, instead of a continuous silencing of these knowscapes. This brings us to our final point in our reflections on the way forward for applying a postcolonial outlook to developments in the Artic. How can we ask the important questions in ways that reflect the contemporary challenges for responsible politics towards environmental as well as human concerns? How can we include the awareness of people and exposed and vulnerable Arctic animals? While concepts and sophisticated theories about the postcolonial Arctic continue to matter, we also need to develop methods and procedures that will enable us to work in ways that matter for those who live here, and for the balance between human and etna (The Sami word for earth). In other words, for exactly the reasons that the Arctic is currently attracting so much attention.

The Postcolonial Arctic Conference

Event Date: 
Fri, 30/05/2014 - 09:00 to Sat, 31/05/2014 - 17:00
Venue: 
Leeds Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds
Location: 
29-31 Clarendon Place, Leeds LS2 9JT

This two-day conference, aimed primarily––though not exclusively––at postgraduate and early-career scholars, seeks to engage postcolonial theories and methods as they are applied to the European Arctic, thereby making the case for a ‘postcolonial Arctic’ in which locally articulated desires to decolonise the region are seen in both ecological and cultural-political terms. The current global scramble for the Arctic can be seen in terms of a centuries-long pursuit of material wealth and political purchase in the region that has hardly diminished for the various colonial and commercial powers concerned (Craciun 2009). The Arctic might thus be described as having both a colonial past and a colonial present, and the conference will look to operate with this double understanding of the postcolonial: as both a painful negotiation of the legacies of earlier eras and a reckoning––in many ways equally damaging––with those new forms of colonialism that have surfaced in today’s globalised world. But the event also seeks to operate with a third, more hopeful understanding of the postcolonial: as setting up the parameters for both imaginative and material transformation so as to support cultural and political autonomy, but also to create the conditions for a more ‘planetary’ (cosmopolitan, socially and ecologically balanced) vision of the world. Papers given at the conference have been invited from across all disciplines, theoretical and empirical angles, and areas of relevance to a ‘postcolonial Arctic’. 

The event will be held at the Leeds Humanities Research Institute (University of Leeds) and co-hosted by the Leeds Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies (ICPS). Keynote speakers include Michael Bravo (Cambridge), Kari Herbert (Polarworld Publishing) and Tero Mustonen (Snowchange Collective, Finland).

Upcoming Conference: New Narratives of the Postcolonial Arctic (27-29 May, 2015)

Event Date: 
Wed, 27/05/2015 - 09:00 to Fri, 29/05/2015 - 17:00
Venue: 
Roskilde University
Location: 
Denmark

Arctic Encounters will hold its second international conference, New Narratives of the Postcolonial Arctic, at Roskilde University from May 27-29, 2015. The call for papers (with a deadline of 15 Feb, 2015) is below; it can also be downloaded here as a PDF

Confirmed keynotes: Aqqaluk Lynge, recently retired Chairman of ICC; Professor Marianne Elisabeth Lien, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo; Stefan Jonsson, Professor of Ethnic Studies, Linköping University

The postcolonial Arctic represents a way of looking at contemporary approaches to being in and engaging with the Arctic that recognises the region as radically and rapidly transformed by a number of factors. These include political change/political agency, climate change and new forms of travel practices. It is important, however, not to lose sight of the colonial structures which have determined relations in the Arctic prior to these new engagements. The conference at Roskilde University seeks to shed light on the complex situation of the Arctic in relation to a number of interdisciplinary practices, relations and narratives associated with travel/writing, including film and photography, in and about the Arctic. Narrative is not only a form of re-presentation, it is also a practice, a form of engagement and a form of emplacement. Furthermore, to quote from Stephen Greenblatt’s Marvelous Possessions ‘Representations are not only products but producers, capable of decisively altering the very forces that brought them into being’ (Greenblatt 1991: 6).

We are inviting scholars from all disciplines to submit papers and suggest panels. If you are planning to propose a panel, please note that we will need abstracts from all participants. Not excluding research into other Arctic areas, holding the conference in Denmark means that we particularly welcome scholars working on Greenland and relations between Denmark and Greenland.

A number of more specifically defined interrelated and overlapping themes can be identified that scholars are invited to relate to, when submitting their abstracts. These include:

• Arctic tourism
• Environment and Arctic tourism
• Narratives and travelling in the Arctic
• Eco-tourism and indigenous tourism
• Tourism and political change in the Arctic
• Arctic travel and decolonisation
• Postcolonial Arctic travel writing
• Tourism, resources seen through a postcolonial prism
• Theoretical and/or methodological considerations of the Arctic as a postcolonial/decolonial space

To find out more about the conference and Arctic Encounters, please visit our website, www.arcticencounters.net. Arctic Encounters – Contemporary Travel/Writing in the European High North is an EU-funded HERA project launched in September 2013. New Narratives of the Postcolonial Arctic is part of this project. Folding together tourism and travel writing as travel/writing, the project explores discrepancies between the needs of the environment, indigenous and non- indigenous inhabitants, and tourists to the region within the overarching context of an increasingly interconnected but incompletely decolonised world.

Ph.D. students delivering papers and attending the conference will be able to claim ECTS-points for their participation.

Please send your abstract of 250 words to Lars Jensen, hopeless@ruc.dk, by 15 February, 2015.

Arctic Encounters: Contemporary Travel/Writing in the European High North (ENCARC)

Arctic Encounters is an international collaborative research project that looks at the increasingly important role of cultural tourism in fashioning twenty-first century understandings of the European Arctic. The project’s general objective is to account for the social and environmental complexities of the High North – an area which incorporates some of Europe’s most geographically extreme regions – as these are inflected in the mutual relationship between a wide range of recent travel practices and equally diverse representations of those practices framed in both verbal and visual terms (e.g. travel writing and documentary film).

Headquartered at the University of Leeds and involving academic partners from Denmark, Iceland and Norway as well as a number of associated non-academic partners and an academic advisory board, the project enquires into the Arctic as (1) an internally differentiated space of cross-cultural entanglement and encounter, and (2) a postcolonial space in which locally articulated desires to decolonise the region are seen in cultural-political and environmental terms. More specifically, its interlinked case studies make the case for a European Arctic that gauges the imaginative as well as geopolitical boundaries of Europe. These case studies also add to continuing debates on EU Arctic cultural policy; provide advanced understandings for European Arctic travel industries; and contribute to the de-peripheralisation of the Arctic in an expanding European cultural and economic zone. Particular attention in the project is given to the recent consolidation of environmentally oriented forms of travel (ecotourism, ‘green’ travel writing) in a region whose improved infrastructure and transportation networks, as well as the local effects of climate change, have resulted in a flourishing of tourism (especially nature tourism and aboriginal tourism) across the region.

Associated Partners: 

Inntravel (www.inntravel.co.uk) is an ethically-minded tour operator based in Yorkshire that offers innovative Slow holidays, in particular self-guided walking and cycling holidays. Among their destinations, they offer popular trips to Svalbard, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Arctic Encounters is working alongside Inntravel to learn about how tourism companies which operate in the Arctic might work better in order to help ensure a positive future for tourism in the region.

The Snowchange Cooperative (www.snowchange.org) is one of Scandinavia’s best-known environmental cooperatives, specialising in Eastern Sápmi (Finland, Russia) climate-change and indigenous activism. Snowchange works closely with indigenous communities across the European Arctic region, where one of its main aims is to close the gap between site-specific academic research – involving both indigenous and non-indigenous scholars – and the various itinerant Northern indigenous communities whose traditional knowledge and cultural autonomy it supports. The Cooperative plays a consciousness-raising role for a variety of constituencies, both within and outside the European Arctic region, and has strong links to several major international bodies such as the US National Science Foundation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Arctic Council.

The Leeds International Film Festival (www.leedsfilm.com), which drew more than 30,000 visitors in 2011 and is one of the largest in the UK, is known for promoting cultural diversity in one of the UK’s most vibrant multicultural cities. Its varied programmes often feature anthropologically oriented documentary work, and promotes the appreciation of different, sometimes little-known cultures. As part of the 2015 Festival, Arctic Encounters is putting on several films and talks by filmmakers, as well as sponsoring a short film competition.

 

ENCARC

Dr. Simone Abram

Title: 
PI-2
Institution: 
Leeds Beckett University
Country: 
United Kingdom
E-mail: 
S.Abram@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Simone oversees the ‘Green Travel Writing’ activities in the Arctic Encounters project. She is a social anthropologist who has published on tourism and planning. Simone has published on outdoor life in Norway with Norwegian colleagues and was a member of the research network ‘Multicultural Arctic Cities’ (based at Tromsø University). She has been a Visiting Fellow in Oslo, Paris and Gothenburg and was Visiting Professor in Tromsø from 2009 to 2011.

Project Title: 
ENCARC
Forenames: 
Simone
Surname: 
Abram
Personal Title: 
Dr

Astrid Andersen

Title: 
Doctoral Candidate
Institution: 
Roskilde University
Country: 
Denmark
E-mail: 
astrian@ruc.dk

Astrid is working towards her PhD in the Department of Cultural Encounters at Roskilde University. She has a background in Sociology and Gender Studies and in her previous work has focused on postcolonial relations in Greenland. Astrid’s research examines contemporary travel practices and encounters in Greenland with special attention devoted to how these practices and encounters relate to the historic Danish colonisation of Greenland.

Project Title: 
ENCARC
Forenames: 
Astrid
Surname: 
Andersen

Professor Graham Huggan

Institution: 
University of Leeds, UK
Address: 
University of Leeds, UK
Country: 
United Kingdom
E-mail: 
g.d.m.huggan@leeds.ac.uk
Project Title: 
ENCARC
Forenames: 
Graham
Surname: 
Huggan
Personal Title: 
Professor

Dr Kirsten Hvenegård-Lassen

Title: 
Associate Professor
Institution: 
University of Roskilde
Country: 
Denmark
E-mail: 
kirs@ruc.dk
External Website Address: 

Kirsten holds a PhD in Minority Studies from Copenhagen University and is an associate professor in the Department of Cultural Encounters, Roskilde University. Kirsten’s previous work has focused on race, ethnicity, gender and immigration in the Nordic countries. She is interested in how the colonial legacy is more or less silently bypassed in Denmark and the other Nordic countries, and how this feeds into the construction of an innocent or benevolent Nordic whiteness. Kirsten is currently editor of NORA, Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research.

Project Title: 
ENCARC
Forenames: 
Kirsten
Surname: 
Hvenegård-Lassen
Personal Title: 
Dr

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