Anticipating endangerment : Nanuuq, climate change, and environmental autonomy in Northwestern Alaska / Hannah Huber Voorhees.

Voorhees, Hannah Huber, author.
[Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] : [University of Pennsylvania], 2014.
x, 226 leaves ; 29 cm
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- Anthropology. (search)
Anthropology -- Penn dissertations. (search)
In 2008, polar bears (or nanuut in the Iñupiaq language) became the first species listed as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to loss of arctic sea ice. With the possibility of removing the ultimate source of this threat--global greenhouse gas emissions--effectively taken off the table, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and their Alaska Native "co-management" partners have begun to carve out secondary spaces of traction for polar bear conservation on the local level. I seek to understand how this project of wildlife recovery from a global, seemingly unstoppable threat is being imagined and enacted "on the ground" through the enrollment of polar bear subsistence hunters and the co-management organization that represents them, the Alaska Nanuuq Commission. I ask, how is the imperative of stopgap conservation transforming parameters of climate justice, indigeneity, and species survival in Northwestern Alaska? Based on two years of multi-sited ethnographic work in the Bering Strait region and Anchorage, Alaska, I argue that the Alaska Nanuuq Commission and the communities it represents have become a de facto frontline of global polar bear conservation. At this frontline and amid anticipated scarcity, what wildlife biologists, hunters, and commission leaders are actually managing is one another's expectations, actions, and agency vis-à-vis polar bears in order to ensure survival as each understands it . In defining the "nature" of nanuuq and the minimum threshold of the species' existence, these different actors sometimes find common ground, and at other times speak past one another. A key focus of this work is the growing centrality of Alaska Native hunting-based knowledge and action in stopgap polar bear conservation. The reframing of hunting as a fulcrum of scientific knowledge and conservation potentiality has been a double-edged sword for communities, increasing pressure to reduce and "rationalize" hunting levels while simultaneously magnifying their leverage in arenas of polar bear management and subsistence protection.
Ph. D. University of Pennsylvania 2014.
Department: Anthropology.
Supervisor: Adriana Petryna.
Includes bibliographical references.
Petryna, Adriana, degree supervisor.
Thomas, Deborah, degree committee member.
Barg, Frances, degree committee member.
Benson, Etienne, degree committee member.
University of Pennsylvania. Department of Anthropology.
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