Ty Jonathan Holtzman

Affiliation: Sosialantropologisk Institutt (SAI) at the University of Oslo + The Oslo School of Environmental Humanities (OSEH)

Contact Info: tyjh@uio.no, +1 603 852 2416

Planned Fieldwork Period: 01.05.2023 to 31.10.2023

My anthropological research in Svalbard asks what it means to live with polar bears during a time of climatic and economic change that affects both people and animals on the archipelago. As the world changes for polar bears with the shrinking of their sea ice habitat, the world of the community in Longyearbyen changes with increased tourism and a shifting economy. Both of these changes bring humans and polar bears into more frequent contact: more polar bears remain on land near human settlements for longer periods of time, and more tourists venture out on boats in the hopes of spotting a polar bear. Ethnographic fieldwork with polar bears poses particular problems, as they can be dangerous to humans and it is forbidden to seek them out. By working with different groups of people in Longyearbyen who encounter polar bears in different ways, I aim to elucidate how people come to know and care about these animals. I also examine the ways in which polar bears shape the lives of the people who live with them.