REXSAC mobility: Lill Rastad Bjørst’s research stay at SPRI
In the beginning of February, I was warmly welcomed to the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) at the University of Cambridge. The visit was a culmination of many years of dialog and discussions with Dr. Richard C. Powell about the future development of Arctic Studies. We had identified many potential synergies with the European Research Council (ERC) project, which he is leading, called “ARCTIC CULT – Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the formation of the European and American Northlands” funded by the ERC, Consolidator Grant (2017-22). While I was at SPRI, I was invited to formal as well as informal talks about the project.
Three weeks after my arrival, I had the chance to present one of my papers at the Polar Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate Workshops and received productive feedback as well as new ideas for future work.
As a visiting professor to the Institute, I had my own desk in the library where I worked. The Library of the Scott Polar Research institute supports the current multidisciplinary research of the Institute and is open to anyone wishing to know more about the polar regions. My ambition was to use the research stay to write the layout for a book project about mining in Greenland, which I co-author with my REXSAC colleague Frank Sejersen. The inspiring academic environment and well-equipped Arctic library was the perfect setting for my writing aspirations. Additionally, I used the time to finish an article for a proposed special issue “Arctic Uchronotopias Resource Extraction” initiated by REXSAC, Research Task 5 and 7 and begin on a REXSAC cornerstone article with the working title: What is Arctic sustainability? Three ways of producing knowledge about sustainable futures”, co-authored with Ulrik Pram Gad, Annika E. Nilsson and Joan Nymand Larsen.
During the daily tea breaks in the SPRI’s friends’ room, I experienced intensive dialogue across disciplines and research areas and a genuine interest in my area of research. It was inspiring to experience a British research tradition and the unique academic tradition at SPRI when it comes to historical and cultural geographies, the geopolitics of territory and resources and the study of Arctic cultures.
The research stay was an activity which affected not only me – but my whole family. While we were in Cambridge, My husband Jacob worked from home, while our kids Neel and Olav attended public school. The weekends were spent taking long walks in the lively city of Cambridge, visiting museums and book shops, strolling along the River Cam, eating at many different restaurants and enjoying family time.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to come and work at SPRI and especially for the hospitality of Johanne Bruun, Nanna Kaalund, John Woitkowitz, Michael Bravo and Richard C. Powell. I am also grateful to my home university Aalborg University, who funded my SPRI stay.