I completed a BA with Honours in Music at the University of Western Ontario in 1980. For the next four years, I worked in the private sector before turning to graduate studies in 1984. I received my MA in Anthropology from McMaster University in 1987 with a fieldwork-based thesis entitled Celebrating Ethnicity: The Icelanders of Manitoba. I completed my PhD in Anthropology at McGill University in 1992. My dissertation, The Eye of the Guest: Icelandic Nationalist Discourse and the Whaling Issue, was based on two years of field research in Iceland, northern Europe and Canada. It is available for download at academia.edu and is in the collections of The National and University Library of Iceland.
I engage in critical interpretive cultural analysis with a focus on the cultural, political and environmental legacies of modernity in Iceland and Canada. I trace these legacies by means of an interdisciplinary engagement with the dynamics of power and representation; with artistic re-imagining of changing social relations with nature, science and technology; and with literary, auditory and visual environmental criticism. I continue to conduct multi-sited ethnographic and virtual fieldwork in Iceland, Canada and western Europe.
Since 1988, I have researched the cultural politics of environmental issues in Iceland. I first studied the nationalist framing of debates about whale hunting sparked by international protests against Iceland’s whaling industry. More recently, I have focused on the Icelandic environmental movement that arose to protest hydroelectric development in the highland wilderness at Kárahnjúkar. In other work, I co-edited with Sandra Niessen Consuming Fashion: Adorning the Transnational Body (Berg 1998). I have also written catalogue essays on several artists, including Eleanor Bond, Joan Perlman, William Eakin, Wanda Koop and Louise Jonasson. In 2000, I curated At Last Sight, an exhibit (with catalogue) of photographic work by Arni Haraldsson, held at Museum London (Canada) and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
My teaching is interdisciplinary and located in the departments of English and Film Studies, History, and Global Studies, all in the Faculty of Arts, as well as in the Faculty of Music.
An extension of the practices involved in reading written texts, literary and non-literary, to the interpretation of other cultural forms (for example, film, graphics, TV programming). There will be some attention to theories that offer a general model for how meaning is constructed and exchanged.
This course examines the ways in which changing knowledge about whales intersects with geopolitical negotiations, economic motivations, environmental apprehensions and cultural narratives about human-animal relations. It focuses on the legal, scientific, diplomatic and ethical disputes still active in the International Whaling Commission and the legacy of the 1960s-inspired anti-whaling movement.
Explores styles, schools and movements of Euro-Western art during a dynamic period of innovation from 1860 to 1970. Topics include: art for art’s sake and the middle class; utopian architecture and design in the aftermath of two world wars; the avant-garde and social reform; and Pop Art and mass culture. Artistic activity is examined in relation to changing ideas, technologies and world history to consider why modern art is so different from what came before.
An exploration of music and sound in relation to natural and human environments and environmental issues. Students will gain insight into the historical and contemporary ways music engages and defines nature, and develop an analytical approach to understanding and managing sonic environments. Topics may include the pastoral, place-based music, music and environmental activism, preservation of soundscapes, noise pollution, and sounds of transformation/devastation.
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