Sveta Yamin-Pasternak

Phone: 907-474-6188
Office: 305B Bunnell Building

Research areas

Food and culture, ethnomycology, aesthetics, Circumpolar North, contemporary art, gender, post-Soviet studies


Department of Anthropology, Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF

As a cultural anthropologist interested in how human food practices in high latitude regions interact with the local climate, built environment, ecology, and aesthetics, I work in communities around Alaska and Russian Far East, and with scholars in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, and engineering. After completing my PhD dissertation in 2007, with a focus on ethnomycology in the Bering Strait, I continued to study anthropology of food in the course of two postdoctoral appointments, first as a National Science Foundation Polar Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and later at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Northern Engineering. I currently lead several interdisciplinary projects at the Institute of Northern Engineering and teach a broad range of courses at the UAF Department of Anthropology. The graduate and undergraduate students I mentor at UAF conduct research on questions related to foraging, identity, post-Soviet transitions, cookery, expressive culture, and contemporary art. .


  • Individual, Culture, and Society (ANTH100X)
  • Fundamentals of Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 215)
  • Culture and Global Issues (ANTH 245)
  • Ethnography of Siberia (ANTH 302)
  • Ethnomycology (EBOT/ANTH 393), team-taught with Igor Pasternak
  • Anthropology of Art (ANTH/ART 402/602), team-taught with Igor Pasternak
  • Economic Anthropology (ANTH 446/646)
  • Gender in Cross-cultural Perspectives (ANTH/WGN 445/446)
  • Food and Culture Seminar (ANTH 402/602)
  • Structures of Anthropological Argument (ANTH 629)


  • In Press. Yamin-Pasternak, S., Schweitzer, P., Pasternak, I., Kliskey, A., Alessa, L. A Cup of Tundra: Ethnography of Thirst and Water in the Bering Strait. Meanings and Values of Water in Russian Culture, Coslow J, and A. Rosenblum, eds., Ashgate Press.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S., Kliskey, A., Alessa, L., Pasternak, I., Schweitzer, P. 2014. The Rotten Renaissance in the Bering Strait: Loving Loathing and Washing the Smell of Foods with a (Re)Acquired Taste, Current Anthropology 55(5):619-645.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2014 Book Review: Our Ice, Snow and Winds: Indigenous and Academic Knowledge of Ice-Scapes and Climate of Eastern Chukotka (Heritage of Beringia series, Issue 2). Bogoslovskaya, Lyudmila and Igor Krupnik, editors and compilers. Moscow and Washington DC: Russian Heritage Institute, 2013.” Alaska Journal of Anthropology 12(1).
  • Yamin-Pasternak S, 2014 Book Review: Yupik Transitions: Change and Survival at Bering Strait, Igor Krupnik and Michael Chlenov, 1900-1960, University of Alaska Press, 2013. ARCTIC 67(3): 412-414.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S., and I. Pasternak, I. 2013. The Unconditionally Loved Conditional Edibles or How to Ruin a Morel: Patriotism and Connoisseurship in the Russian System of Mushroom Rating, Fungi (6)1:12-16.
  • Yashchenko, O., Yamin-Pasternak, S., Pasternak., I., 2012 Book Review: Vekhi na Mysakh [Landmarks on Capes]: Papers in Honor of Sergei Arutyunov on his 80th birthday, Bronshtein, M. and I. Krupnik, eds,” Alaska Journal of Anthropology 10(1&2): 89-91.
  • Yamin-Pasternak. 2011. Ethnomycology: Mushrooms in Cultural Enganglements, Ethnobiology, a Textbook , E.N Adnerson and Nancy Turner, eds. Wiley Blackwell Publications.
  • Schweitzer, P., Alessa, L., Kliskey, A., Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2010. Livelihoods on Thawing Ground: Relationships with Water Resources near the Bering Strait, Anthropology News 2 (22-24)
  • Yamin-Pasternak., S., 2010 Book Review: Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom, Andy Letcher 2007. Ethnobiology Letters 1:26–27.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2009. “The Day that Feeds a Year: Ethnography of Mushrooming in the Russian Arctic,” Fungi 2(2): 49-56.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2008 From Disgust to Desire: Changing Attitudes toward Beringian Fungi, Economic Botany 62(3):214-222.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2008 A Means of Survival, a Marker of Feasts: Mushroom Cookery in the Russian Far East, Ethnology 47(2):95-107.
  • Yamin-Pasternak, S. 2007 An Ethnomycological Approach to Land Use Values in Chukotka, Etudes/Inuit/Studies 31:121-141.