Rachel Carson Center
for Environment and Society
In September 2019 Johnny and Kelly will travel to Munich for a four-month fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (at the Ludwig Maximillian University), where they will work on their book project Out Land and accompanying pedagogical materials.
The RCC's Core Research Theme for this period, “Sufficiency, Post-Capitalism, and the Good Life,” asks scholars and artists to consider how to craft a better ecological future. Insofar as capitalism ensures environmental collapse (and has wrought ecological and cultural havoc on northern communities), the rest of the world has much to learn from Inuit in regard to living a sufficient, sustainable life in which humans balance their own existence with that of the natural world. (Specifically with regard to climate change, readers must be made aware of the deeply painful irony that those people least responsible for global warming are the first to feel its effects.)
In Inuktitut, sila (ᓯᓚ) is the term for the physical environment and climate, but also for wisdom, cleverness, and even breath in the body, reinforcing the inextricable bonds between Inuit and nuna (land). Sila represents both the potential buen vivir of a life in balance with the natural world, and the frightening reality of the social ramifications of environmental collapse. The ongoing renaissance in Inuit arts and culture (including traditional survival and artistic skills, language, singing, and tattooing) represents a possible post-growth paradigm which has the potential to see the north—and us all—through ecological crisis.