Writing this report back in windy Reykjavik, I already miss the sunshine, warmth, and atmosphere of Bodo. I feel very lucky to have attended the conference in Bodo, especially given that I am early on in my career as an Arctic scholar even compared to other early career researchers. As a result, attending the UArctic Congress was extremely useful for networking and feeling my way into the field, preparing for my DPhil research this fall, and getting an overview of Arctic research across many different disciplines in a wide variety of subject areas.

I first moved to Iceland as a Leifur Eriksson Fellow in 2022 where I wrote my masters thesis on youth environmentalism in Iceland, becoming acquainted with the aspects of their cause affected by Iceland’s northern latitude. I attended Arctic Circle as a member of the Icelandic Youth Environmentalists and as an anthropologist, where the horizons of Arctic research began to open themselves up even more to my eyes. I did not know it at the time, but one encounter proved to be fateful for my future, namely when I met a group of young geoengineering advocates. Intrigued by their work, I decided that I would pursue the topic further, encountering these youth at other conferences such as COP28 in Dubai—and eventually I decided to make these geoengineering advocates the subject of my DPhil application to the Anthropology program at Oxford. In preparation for starting this program in the fall, I presented my preliminary research outlook at the UArctic Congress. My master’s program did not offer conference funding, but thanks to funding from the conference itself, I was able to take a break from my summer research job and attend the full conference. I presented on a panel alongside some of the advocates that I had befriended and will be focusing my research on, whose goal in their own words is to “refreeze the Arctic” before reaching critical tipping points that would cause irreversible effects to Arctic sea ice in particular and the global climatic system in general. Given their focus on the Arctic, the controversial history/nature of geoengineering, and its effect on Sámi people, I am particularly interested  in investigating the overlapping and competing visions or priorities for Sámi people and other Arctic youth through ethnographic fieldwork.

While in Bodo, I happened to meet Julius from the Sámi council, who is going to be a collaborator on the UArctic thematic network on “” phase 2 project on categorizing geoengineering projects. We chatted about my research, and he showed great enthusiasm for my work, while I also met other scholars that I believe will be very helpful. This includes researchers from the UArctic thematic network, other anthropologists and geographers at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge (the home of Dr. Michael Bravo, who I hope will agree to be an external advisor for my DPhil)—who extended an invitation to be a guest speaker at their Arctic early career researchers group, and other researcher working with Sámi people—as well as many Sámi researchers themselves. I have not worked with Indigenous Peoples in my research in the past, and together with my advisor at Oxford, I decided that it would be important to build experience and relations with the Sámi community in preparation for my DPhil research. Along these lines, I also attended a number of sessions on Indigenous led or collaborative research methods pointing me to more resources for me to become familiar with and incorporate by drawing on traditional knowledge, the arts, and other spheres that have been frequently excluded from academic research.

I am extremely thankful towards UArctic for making it possible for me to attend the conference, and the great experiences that it entailed. (c) Cody Alexander Skahan