Legacies of Contamination, GREENLAND

Bjerde, Grétarsdottir, Hafsteinsson, Silis Hoeg, Kielsen Holm, Lindman, Myrup, Suominen, Tenetz, Vold

As the Greenlandic ice cap melts, natural resources on the island become increasingly accessible to mining, drilling and damming. Simultaneously, the melting ice reveals old NATO base camps. Toxic waste from camps flow into melted water. This double whammy will give rise to profound changes: economies topple, populations migrate, local identities transform.

This intensive course combined research, discussions, and fieldwork by bringing together students from Aalto University and University of Iceland and researchers, artists, community organizers, politicians, and activists in Greenland.
We seeked to foment discussion between various interest groups in the Arctic region about environmental politics, economy and social and ecological transformations. The class lectures were open to the public in Greenland.

Students engaged with transdisciplinary research in microbiology, geology, anthropology, and art. They were introduced to and collected evidence and narratives that reflected the uncertainty of today’s Arctic region with its shifting geopolitics. At the end, students gained understanding of the complex social, environmental and biological realities of the Arctic. The course comprised seminar and field workshops in Nuuk and its environs. Students carried out field research exploring the social and biological transformations in process.

City center of Nuuk, 2018. The graffiti at the end of the block depicts ‘Pooŋojorteq’ and is painted by Guido van Helten from an archival photograph taken in the remote East Greenland settlement of Ammassalik in 1906 (National Museum of Greenland Archives).

See further material and samples of student work

This educational project was funded in part by Nordic Council and Aalto University, Finland, and was realised in collaboration with University of Reykjavik, Iceland, NAPA Nuuk, Greenland, Greenland Research Center of Natural Resources, and the Greenland Museum of Natural History.

Related Material

Blue West NATO base, Marraq, Greenland. Photo credit: Matti Tanskanen

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