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Arctic Research at Brown and the Haffenreffer

by on April 9, 2013

Model kayaks at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology’s Collection Research Center in Bristol, RI. From left: Kirk Dombrowski (CUNY) and Thierry Gentis (HMA Curator). (All photos by Christy DeLair.)

A few weeks ago, Kirk Dombrowski (Associate Professor of Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center and John Jay College) visited Brown University to give the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology’s Shepard Krech III Lecture, on “Understanding Arctic Communities on the Brink of Self-Governance,” and a workshop on “Reaching ‘Hard-to-Reach’ Populations for Research in Anthropology, Sociology, and Public Health.” While he was here, Dombrowski visited the Haffenreffer’s Collections Research Center in Bristol. Dombrowski’s visit was funded by donors to the Shepard Krech III Lecture fund, the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, and ARCUS, the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States.

Looking at halibut hooks in the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology collection, Bristol, RI. From left: Thierry Gentis (HMA Curator), Kirk Dombrowski, and Nate Dombrowski.

Kirk Dombrowski describing use of halibut hooks.

These Northwest Coast halibut hooks (above) inspired a wide-ranging discussion about locally caught halibut, connecting reflections on Dombrowski’s upbringing in the Northeast to his work on the Northwest Coast and comparing 19th century Haida fishing technology to contemporary Northeast fishing techniques.

Kirk Dombrowski touring the Haffenreffer’s Collections Research Center.

These Nunamiut or inland Inupiat caribou skin masks (above) also caught our attention. Made in the mid-20th century in Anaktuvuk Pass in the Brooks Range in northern Alaska, they were collected between 1973 and 1991. These masks, and the other objects pictured here, are part of the museum’s extensive collection of Arctic and Sub-Arctic materials, and a part of a 55-year history of Arctic research at Brown.

You can learn more about this history, this relationship, and the Arctic itself in upcoming lectures sponsored by the Haffenreffer. Douglas Anderson (Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Laboratory for Circumpolar Studies, both at Brown) will give the Barbara A. and Edward G. Hail Lecture, entitled “Initial Peopling of the Americas: New Questions, New Answers,” on Wednesday, April 10, at 5:30 in Salomon Center Rm 001. Kevin P. Smith (Deputy Director of the Haffenreffer) will speak on “Volcanoes, Gods, and Men: REVEALing a Viking Age Ritual Landscape beneath Iceland’s Interior” on Wednesday April 24, at 5:30 in Salomon Center Rm 001. Further information about both talks is available on our calendar page.

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