Conference 27 to 29 August 2017

Conversations from the North: Scholars of many disciplines and inhabitants of many places in dialogue with one another, with animals and plants, and with the land 

The International Academic Conference will be held immediately after the Forum in the King's College Conference Centre, located within the King's College Campus, Old Aberdeen. It will begin on the afternoon of Sunday, 27 August and continue over the following two days, 28 and 29 August.  

Conference Theme 

What do we mean by the Arctic, or the circumpolar North? Is it a particular region of the earth’s surface, above a certain latitude? Is it defined by climate, such as extremes of winter cold? Is it a function of the dominant vegetation of the tundra or taiga, with its associated fauna, or the permanently or seasonally icebound oceans with their populations of fish and marine mammals? It may be all of these things. But from the point of view of the people who live there, the North is – in the first place – a conversation, or rather a tangled web of concurrent conversations that weave into and around one another. Like all conversations, they flow; spinning here and there into topics like eddies in a stream. Critically, these conversations are not limited to human participants. On the contrary, the world itself is understood by northern inhabitants as a medley of voices that are continually in dialogue with one another, including those of animals and plants, of the wind and weather, of celestial and terrestrial phenomena, and of the land itself. As inhabitants of a world in which everything is suspended in movement, people have always journeyed from place to place as their conversations have proceeded from topic to topic. 

In this conference, we will consider how northern scholarship can join these conversations and carry them forward into broader terrains of intellectual engagement. In so doing, we will challenge dominant paradigms of research in both the natural and the social sciences, above all by calling into question the very separation of the world of nature from that of human society which underwrites the distinction between these two branches of scientific inquiry. In its place we will seek to forge a new practice of interdisciplinary research, done in collaboration with northern residents and on their terms, which recognises that every discipline is itself an ongoing conversation, or a way of knowing, rather than a compartment within an overarching, hierarchically organised system of knowledge. Conversations from the North will, then, help to generate a science that is more open-ended, responsive to environmental variation and respectful of the wisdom of inhabitants. 

Keynote speakers: 

  • Prof Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, UK

  • Prof Richard Bradshaw, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK

  • Prof Nikolai Vakhtin, Professor of Arctic Social Studies, European University at St. Petersburg, Russia

  • Prof Susan Kaplan, Director of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center, Bowdoin College, USA 

Panel themes: 

Conference panels will address the following five themes: 

  1. The Anthropocene in the Arctic?

  2. Movements and Encounters of Northern Peoples in the Long Term

  3. Health, Education and Culture Change in the North

  4. Land, Sovereignty and Indigenous Rights

  5. Political Regimes and International Relations in the Circumpolar North 

Provisional Programme

Sunday 27 August

  • 11.00-14.00: Registration
  • 14.00-14.30: Conference opening event
  • 14.30-15.30: Plenary, first keynote
  • 16.00-18.00: Panel One: The Anthropocene in the Arctic?
  • 18.30-19.30: Welcome reception, Duncan Rice Library, Craig Suite

Monday 28 August

  • 9.00-10.00: Plenary, second keynote
  • 10.30-12.30 Panel two: Movements and Encounters of Northern Peoples in the Long Term
  • 13.30-14.30: Plenary, third keynote
  • 15.00-17.00 Panel Three: Health, Education and Culture Change in the North
  • 19.00: Conference dinner and Danse McCabre ceilidh, Elphinstone Hall

Tuesday 29 August

  • 9.00-10.00: Plenary, fourth keynote
  • 10.30-12.30 Panel four: Land, Sovereignty and Indigenous Rights
  • 13.30-14.30: Plenary, fifth keynote
  • 15.00-17.00: Panel five: Political Regimes and International Relations in the Circumpolar North 
  • 17.00-17.30: Conference closing event 

A Full Conference Programme will be available to download shortly 

Abstract Call (200 words maximum) 

We welcome oral and poster presentations addressing one or other of the five panel themes. When submitting your abstract, please indicate the theme for which you wish it to be considered. The reviewing process should a few weeks. You will then be notified if your paper has been selected for oral presentation. If not, you will have the option of presenting it as a poster. 

Abstract formatting and submission instructions:

  • For title, authors and affiliations: Use only Arial font (title in 14pt font bold; authors in 11pt font; affiliations in 10pt font italic).

  • For title, capitalize only first word and proper nouns.

  • Underline the name of the presenting author.

  • Only superscript numerals should be used to connect authors to their affiliations.

  • All affiliations are to be italicized.
  • Text to be justified.

For abstract text, please conform to the following:

  • Abstract text should be single spaced in Arial 11pt font.

  • Avoid the use of special/non-standard symbols unless absolutely necessary (ensure that fonts are embedded in this case when you save the file).

  • If equations are essential, then please ensure to embed the maths font in the document.

  • Avoid the use of italic or bold text.

  • Text to be justified.

  • Figures are not permitted, so please do not embed them in the document.

  • Do not indent the first line of any paragraph.

  • All paragraphs should be separated by a single line space.

  • Headers and footers are not permitted.

  • Do not adjust default page margins (all margins are 2.0 cm, with the exception of the left margin which is 3.0 cm) or page size (A4 portrait).

  • The abstract, including title, authors, affiliations and abstract text, must not exceed 200 words.  

Submission instructions 

Abstracts (maximum of 200 words) should be submitted to

Please use the following convention for your abstract file name: [first name]_[surname]_[oral, poster or keynote]_[abstract number].docx for example, joe_bloggs_oral_3.docx means that Joe Bloggs is submitting his 3rd abstract and is requesting an oral presentation. All poster requests will be honoured, but oral presentations will be assigned by the Committee, who may not be able to honour every request. Keynote speakers have already been identified, so only use this option only if you are a designated keynote speaker. Keynote speakers should not submit more than one abstract with the “keynote” identifier.

Aberdeen Based Delegate Registration Rates

The following rates apply ONLY to Aberdeen based delegates.  To register please send your details to

Conference only 27 August £10.00
Conference only 28 August  £20.00
Conference and sit down dinner and ceilidh 28 August  £50.00
Conference only 29 August  £20.00
Conference only 27, 28 and 29 August £40.00
Conference and ceilidh sit down dinner  27, 28 and 29 August £70.00
Delegate’s companion rate to join the ceilidh and sit down dinner on 28 August  £35.00
Delegate’s full day coach excursion rate, includes refreshments and lunch 26 August £60.00
Delegate’s companion rate to join the full day coach excursion, includes refreshments and lunch 26 August £60.00

Keynote Speakers:  


  • Professor Richard Bradshaw, Geographer focusing on human mediated and climate mediated impacts on forests at Liverpool University
  • Professor Susan Kaplan, Director of Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center at Bowdoin, Maine
  • Professor Iain Stewart, Geologist focusing on human mediated and climate mediated impacts on forests at Plymouth University
  • Professor Nikolai Vakhtin, Linguist, Department of Anthropology, Doctor of Science in Philology, Professor of Arctic Social Studies and founder of the European University at St. Petersburg