Title: Negotiating Pathways to Adulthood: Social Change and Indigenous Culture in Four Circumpolar Communities - Progress update (pdf)
Summary of Activity
Contemporary dynamics of rapid social change have dramatically affected the political, cultural, and economic systems of circumpolar Indigenous people. The Pathways study is a comparative, collaborative, and participatory circumpolar research project. Its aims are to explore responses to rapid social transition through the life experiences of circumpolar youth. The proposed study will examine 80 youth life history narratives. These narratives will come from an Alaska Inupiat, Alaska Yup’ik, Canadian Inuit, and Siberian Eveny community. In addition, the research team is developing collaborations using additional funding sources to examine the narratives of an additional 40 youth from a Norwegian Samì and Greenlandic community. In this study, the team intends to identify shared and divergent stressors and patterns of resilience in the transition to adulthood across these different circumpolar settings. Youth resilience is defined as the ability to overcome acute and on-going difficulties in the pathway to adulthood. The investigators seek to identify cultural strategies and resources that characterize resiliency across two age groups, ages 11-14 and 15-18, and across gender. The impact of a shared colonial history and contemporary social suffering among indigenous communities in the Arctic has been extensively documented through decades of Arctic social science research. The issue of healthy adaptation and resilience among Indigenous youth has not been adequately considered, leaving developmental trajectories of healthy adaptation and resilience relatively unexplored. This research aims to build on Indigenous categories to describe the social experiences and resources shaping culturally patterned resilience strategies of young people responding to challenges distinct from those of their parents and grandparents. This will provide insights into the family, community, and cultural contexts that support healthy youth development, and identify key ingredients to successful prevention and intervention health strategies for Indigenous young people. Study across six circumpolar communities will also provide unprecedented insights into the effect of diverse social, political, cultural, and economic systems on youth development, and inform effective social policy for circumpolar youth. This project builds on and sustains long-term participatory research relationships between local community institutions, community co-researchers, and a multidisciplinary team of international university researchers. Indigenous community co-researcher involvement and direction is emphasized throughout all phases of this project, whose aims respond to strong local interest in youth resilience and wellbeing. Development of interview schedules, data collection procedures, and the analysis will be in collaboration with Local Steering Committees (LSC) to ensure their cultural grounding. A representative from each LSC will be actively involved in the cross-site work through membership in an international Circumpolar Steering Committee.
James Allen, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6480
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Departments of Psychology & Anthropology
603 E. Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820
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