Kirsten Hastrup

Kirsten Hastrup
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/09/2016 - 31/01/2017


Anthropologie et ethnologie

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université de Copenhague (Danemark)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Tristes Arctiques. Exploration, ethnographie et l'émergence de l'Eskimo

The project centres on Arctic anthropology and seeks to understand the entanglement of landscape, history and colonial encounter in the perception of the Inuit peoples. It takes off from a sustained interest in the history of Arctic exploration and from ethnographic fieldwork in Thule, NW-Greenland, over the past eight years.
The main title of the project, Tristes Arctiques, echoes the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss, whose Tristes Tropiques (1955) remains an inspiration. The project develops his insight into the clash between the modern world and traditional life with a view to present day concerns in the Arctic, including the dramatic climatic changes, and explores how far ethnographic observations are coloured by the observers’ historical position.
Three main analytical moves are made: The first explores the perception of the ‘Arctic frontier’ as partly made up of an overpowering nature making it impossible to live and study it from ‘outside’. The second develops the notion of a ‘human terrain’, as different from both territory and landscape, and related to the plasticity of perception and the eventness of place. Finally, the ‘living resources’ by which the hunting communities live, offer an entry into inter-species engagement as part of the local life-world. Between them, these moves show how the intimate connection with the natural world has contributed to the perceived radical otherness of the Arctic peoples.


Kirsten Hastrup is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. She the author or editor of 40 books and some 250 articles and book-chapters in English and Danish. Her work has been widely translated.
She was the President of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 2008-2016. She is Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
She has conducted anthropological fieldwork in Iceland and Northwest-Greenland (Thule), based on extensive historical research, and published numerous books and articles of a historical-anthropological kind. Her last book Thule på tidens rand [‘Thule on the edge of time’] from 2015 exemplifies this.