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Title:Climate change, technology, and toponymy in the cultural landscape of Nunavut
Author(s):Chen, Yini
Advisor(s):Hays, David Lyle
Contributor(s):O'Shea, Conor; Aporta, Claudio
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.L.A.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):Sea ice
Place naming (toponymy)
Ecological continuum
Spatial practices
Arctic urbanism
Nunavut
Climate change
Abstract:Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic, is the “Ground Zero” of acute climatic and technological change. As this landscape transforms, the place-based knowledge of the native Inuit is under threat. According to recent psychological research, societal problems such as youth suicide, stem from the Inuit losing connections with their homeland. This thesis explores the relationship between climate change, technology, and toponymy (place-naming) among the Inuit of Nunavut so as to propose a richer kinship between the arctic landscape and the Inuit. Since prehistoric times, Inuit place naming has recognized natural flows in culturally significant sites. However, sea ice has been vanishing in Nunavut since around the 1970s and, consequently, traditionally named places have become increasingly inaccessible to the Inuit. In this thesis, three different forms of landscape representation—westernized scientific mapping, indigenous mapping, and design research diagram—are used to visualize this inaccessibility of traditional places through different seasons as well as over generations. During this period of sea ice related shifts, Inuit habitation has transitioned from seasonal camps to modern towns. Though modern place names have different scales, patterns, and meanings compared to their traditional counterparts, they nevertheless remain a responsive negotiation between Inuit lives and the arctic landscape. Seeing technological and climatic change in ecological continuum instead of as disruption will help keep traditional place names alive while opening opportunities for meaningful new names. Building on grounded landscape speculations and anthropological views to synthesize spatial practices, the goal of this thesis is to design six new places worthy of being named by the Inuit and added to their native index of place names. In these new places worthy of being named, energy, matter, and information are inflected flows speaking to environmental fluctuations. Naming of these new natural flows on site is a part of a collective effort to construct new urban situations. It recognizes the current generation’s knowledge and transfers the power of public space into robust social infrastructure for modern cultural practices. In an age when the Arctic is a new hinterland for development, this thesis proposes a framework for future arctic urbanism that respects local history and shared societal values.
Issue Date:2017-07-20
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/99136
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Yini Chen
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-02
Date Deposited:2017-08


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