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New course in Arctic histories

Headshot of Elena Campbell

December 23, 2020

Elena Campbell, UW Department of History, developed and will be teaching a new course this winter: HSTCMP/ARCTIC 220 At the Top of the World: Arctic Histories.

Elena’s new course explores the history of human understanding of and relationship to the Earth’s northernmost regions, by tracing the social, economic, political, and environmental transformations of these areas during the period from the earliest settlements to the end of the 20th century, as well as the shifts in ideas that accompanied these changes. The topics covered in this course include the history of Indigenous settlements and adaptations to the northern environment; Euro-American colonization, state-building and border-making; religion and empire; economic development, industrialization and resource exploitation; cultural imagination and nationalism; exploration and the international race to the North Pole; the Soviet “conquest” of the Arctic and the GULAG in the Far North; World War II and Cold War; the issue of indigenous rights, decolonization, environmental concerns and efforts for international cooperation in the Arctic.

Elena Campbell is a historian of imperial Russia. She is currently working on a new book project, tentatively titled, The Northern Turn: Nationalism, Development, and Environment in Late Tsarist Russia. The book explores Russia’s turn to the North and the aspiration to establish itself as a northern imperial nation during the late tsarist era (1860s-1917). With her colleague Nadine Fabbi she is co-Council Representative for the University of the Arctic.

The course will carry joint listing with Arctic Studies and count as an elective for the Arctic Studies minor in the Jackson School (a joint offering with the School of Oceanography). This course will fit into the Comparative and Transregional Global History area of study and will be linked to the thematic History major and minor: Empire and Colonialism. This course would draw students from various departments and programs, including the Department of History, the Arctic Studies minor program, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, Department of Scandinavian Studies, and the College of the Environment.