image of the book cover of Biocultural Diversity and Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Human Ecology in the Arctic

Biocultural Diversity and Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Human Ecology in the Arctic

Karim-Aly S. Kassam

$34.95 CAD / $35.95 USD (S)

288 pages, 32 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

Hardback: 1552382532

Paperback: 978-1-55238-253-0

Library PDF: 978-1-55238-293-6

May 2009

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Illustrates the synthesis between the cultural and the biological in the Circumpolar Arctic, using human ecology as a conceptual lens and drawing on research carried out in partnership with Northern Indigenous communities.

Dramatic challenges face human civilization everywhere. Relations between human beings and their environment are in peril, with mounting threats to both biological diversity of life on earth and cultural diversity of human communities. The peoples of the Circumpolar Arctic are at the forefront of these challenges and lead the way in seeking meaningful responses.

In Biocultural Diversity and Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Karim-Aly Kassam positions the Arctic and sub-Arctic as a homeland rather than simply as a frontier for resource exploitation. Kassam aims to empirically and theoretically illustrate the synthesis between the cultural and the biological, using human ecology as a conceptual and analytical lens. Drawing on research carried out in partnership with Indigenous northern communities, three case studies illustrate that subsistence hunting and gathering are not relics of an earlier era but rather remain essential to both cultural diversity and to human survival.

This book deals with contemporary issues such as climate change, Indigenous knowledge, and the impact of natural resource extraction. It is a narrative of community-based research, in the service of the communities for the benefit of the communities. It provides resource-based industry, policy makers, and students with an alternative way of engaging Indigenous communities and transforming our perspective on conservation of ecological and cultural diversity.

Karim-Aly Kassam has been working with the peoples of the Arctic for over fifteen years. His research focuses on the complex connectivity of human and environmental relations, addressing Indigenous ways of knowing, sustainable development, and climate change. In partnership with Indigenous communities, he has conducted research in the Alaskan, Canadian, and Russian Arctic and sub-Arctic; the Pamir Mountains in Afghanistan and Tajikistan; and the forests in the south of India. Dr. Kassam is International Associate Professor of Environmental and Indigenous Studies at Cornell University.

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Relations Between Culture and Nature: A Critical Consideration
Chapter 3. Human Ecology Reconceptualized: A Lens for Relations between Biological and Cultural Diversity
Chapter 4: "Man and His Friends" – An illustrative Case of Human Ecology in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada
Chapter 5: "The Weather is Going Under" – Human Ecology, Phronesis, and Climate Change in Wainright, Alaska, USA
Chapter 6. Mapping Human Ecology: A Transformative Act
Chapter 7. Implications of a Human Ecological Outlook