Isolated from Civilisation: Student Research Project

28. 7. 2021

The Arctic region of Sweden will see a start of a unique field research project involving students from the University of Pardubice. Students of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy will spend a total of 20 days in the wilderness of Lapland with no Internet connection, mobile coverage or even contact with other people.

“We have designed the project to look into autoethnography and ethnography of social dynamics in an isolated micro-group. To put it in lay terms, students will learn, in isolation from the external world, about self-awareness and changes in social relations in a group they will be a part of,” says PhDr. Adam Horálek, Ph.D., Head of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. “To make the method work and make it easier for the students to monitor and describe the phenomena, I have opted for an extreme form of isolation,” says Dr. Horálek, who will accompany the students to Lapland.

There only few places in densely-populated Europe where you can avoid modern civilisation. That is why the group of 8 students goes to the Arctic Region, namely the Sarek National Park, Padjelanta National Park and Stora Sjaefallets National Park, which are the wildest areas in Europe as well as European oldest protected areas. The isolation will be extreme both in terms of its intensity and length. Experts believe that the group will undergo many social transformation processes during the three weeks. In addition, the students will learn basic survival techniques and acquire knowledge about the environment, human-nature interaction, the country of Sweden and its original inhabitants, the Sami.

All students will keep a logbook throughout the trip; some of them will also take photos and make video recordings. That is why the students take with them not only basic equipment and food, but also two solar chargers.

Field research is a mandatory part of the BA programme in Social and Cultural Anthropology, while only an optional course in the MA programme. The group will include both BA and MA students. In the past, students have done field research in Taiwan, the Altai Mountains or Karelia, Russia as well as Moldova, Ukraine, Romania or Slovakia. In addition, trips have been organised to areas such as Middle Asia.

This year’s trip will result in a conference paper as well as video made by the students as part of a visual anthropology module. There are also plans for a publication based on the logbooks kept by all the participants.

For more details on the study at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy as well as other faculties of the University of Pardubice, see https://studuj.upce.cz/

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