Three UArctic member institutions of the thematic network ARCH (Arctic Cutlures and History) were represented at the conference: UiT the Arctic University of Norway, the University of Iceland and the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ).

Historians and specialists of Literature, German, English and Scandinavian Studies as well as Ethnography and Museology from France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Hungary met to discuss topics relating to the reception of knowledge from the circumpolar Arctic in Central and Eastern Europe from the 17th to the long 19th century. The conference was nominated “Best Research Activity” at UMK and financed by grants from the Burgomaster of the city of Toruń, the Excellence Initiative “Young Universities for the future of Europe” (YUFE), as well as the French National Research Agency ANR via the Junior Full Professorship in Arctic Humanities at MIARC/UVSQ.

TN ARCH News 2


Papers were dedicated to single agents of knowledge, their observations and scientific discourses in which knowledge form Greenland, Iceland, Sápmi, the Canadian Arctic and Sibiria had been absorbed. The aim was to explain the different reasons why various groups - scholars, merchants, newspaper makers or aristocrats - were interested in the Arctic regions, e.g. scientific progress, trade profit, status representation through objects, topicality of news or medicine/ health, which could be promoted through products from the Arctic, etc. The focus was therefore on the reception of travel accounts from the Arctic by scholars in their own publications and debates of learned societies (natural science, geography, history, philosophy, literature), on representations of knowledge in collections (natural history cabinets) as well as the reception of knowledge about Arctic phenomena in everyday life, such as extreme cold, adaptation strategies on journeys or eating habits adapted in relation to the cold. The significance of scientific and (inter)confessional networks, mobility, education, religious minorities, the press and/or trade for the circulation of knowledge was also examined.

Discussions about the history of the Arctic were enriched by the experience of author and traveller Andrzej Dybczak, who published his account Gugara about the Evenki in 2012 and has produced several films about Siberia. Additionally, the participants have got an overview of the collection of objects from Siberia and Chukotka in the Ethnographic Museum of Kraków, Poland, and research provided on this material culture by Magdalena Zych, curator of the collection.

The conference revealed the need for historical research on the circulation of knowledge about the Arctic based on multilingualism which can help to understand the different mental backgrounds of European interest in the Arctic today.