Research Group Arctic Historical Ecology

The Arctic Historical Ecology research group draws a cornerstone definition from Crumley and Marquardt (1990):

“Historical ecology traces the ongoing dialectical relations between human acts and acts of nature, made manifest in the landscape. Practices are maintained or modified, decisions are made, and ideas are given shape; a landscape retains the physical evidence of these mental activities. Past and present human use of the earth must be understood in order to frame effective environmental policies for the future; this necessitates deft integration of both environmental and cultural information at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. Landscape provides practitioners of many disciplines – from ecology and geography to architecture and philosophy – with a common and useful concept.” (In Crumley 1994: 9.)

Our landscape or rather the region at the centre of the AHE research group is the Arctic. The map indicates that the Arctic does not have one but many definitions.
Arctic definitionSince humans first explored, exploited, and inhabited the Arctic, they have had to adjust to an extremely changeable environment, with varying success. At present, rapid warming indicated in the figure imposes a new set of challenges.
Arctic climate changeSource: Philippe Rekacewicz and Nieves Lopez Izquierdo,

We draw your attention to the alarm raised in the Santa Fe Accord, and we support its call for research and management options “that draw on the lessons from the human past to guide and promote a sustainable quality of life”. (In Crumley 1994: 243.)
With this in mind, the research projects of the Arctic Historical Ecology research group primarily investigate past and present human-environment interactions with contributions of social, physical, and biological scientists and humanists. Where possible, we strive for a practical application in, for instance, social science, humanities, and legal and medical policy.

Further reading
Arctic Portal. (n.d.) Arctic portal. The Arctic gateway. Available at
Crumley, C. L. (Ed.). (1994). Historical ecology. Cultural knowledge and changing landscapes. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press.
Egan, D., & Howell, E. A. (Eds.). (2001). The historical ecology handbook. A restorationist’s guide to reference ecosystems. Washington: Island Press.
Guldi, J., & Armitage, D. (2014). The history manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
International Arctic Science Committee. (2015). Integrating Arctic research - a roadmap for the future (ICARP III). Available at


  • Timeless Arctic – commercial hunting in the reconstruction of human impact in Svalbard more
  • Climate change, mobility and transformation. Human-environment interactions in (pre)historical societies of the Arctic more

Arctic Historical Ecology Team