Office: Bunnell 307D
Phone: 907 474 6608
Email: pplattet @ alaska.edu
As a cultural anthropologist, I am interested in understanding how people creatively exploit changing circumstances to preserve what matters to them. My research explores the perpetuation and transformation of rituals related to sea-mammals, bears and reindeer in Kamchatka (Russian Far East), and the multifaceted legacies of reindeer herding and dog mushing in Alaska. A particular focus is on festive activities – culture camps, reindeer/sled dog races, village carnivals, subsistence-related games, etc. – that promote cultural preservation, knowledge sharing, and opportunities for community-based education.
My projects are collaborative and participatory. I spend as much time as possible in the field, in rural and urban areas, where I strive to facilitate the ethnographic documentation of valued cultural practices (see, for example, uaf.edu/deer/). I currently lead two funded research programs at the UAF Department of Anthropology. The first one, with Amber Lincoln (Curator for the Americas, British Museum), is supported by the National Park Service and examines the “Reindeer Traditions of Beringia”, past and present. This project is done in partnership with culture-bearers in northwest Alaska. The second one is supported by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. This project conducts cooperative and collaborative social science research on beluga whale hunting in Kaktovik, Alaska. It uses ethnographic methods to document local traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and local knowledge of beluga whales, including hunting practices, changes over time, important hunting areas, and the cultural value of beluga to the community.
With Robin Shoaps (UAF Department of Anthropology), I recently collaborated with Alaska dog mushers to form the content of a virtual ethnographic field school. The production of this field school was funded by the National Science Foundation and is now offered as online course to UAF students. The project also contributed to the development of the SELIN online pedagogical platform created in Switzerland (University of Neuchâtel) to teach ethnographic methods and observational skills.
In connection to my research activities I teach a broad range of courses at the UAF Department of Anthropology, and I strongly encourage undergraduate and graduate students to participate in my projects.
- Introduction to Social/Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 215)
- Virtual Ethnographic Field School (ANTH 370)
- World Ethnography (ANTH 301)
- History of Anthropology (ANTH 384)
- Political Anthropology (ANTH 403/603)
- Kinship and Social Organization (ANTH 407/607)
- Anthropology of Religion (ANTH 409/609)
- Human-Animal Reéations in the North (ANTH 492/292)
- Structures of Anthropological Arguments (ANTH 629)
- Anthropological Field Methods (ANTH 630)
- Research Design and Professional Development (ANTH 652)
Journal articles and book chapters
(Forthcoming) “Deep into the feast: Stepan Krasheninnikov’s observations and descriptions of a Kamchatkan Fall ritual,” in J. Bobaljik, A. King and D. Koester (eds). Festschrift in honor of Viktoria Petrasheva. Berghahn Books [Studies in the Circumpolar North].
2022 (with Robin Shoaps) “‘Tales from the Trail’: Oratory and Affect among Alaska Dog Mushers,” Open Anthropological Research, 2: 1-18.
2021 (with Amber Lincoln and Varpu Lotvonen) “Frank Churchill’s 1905 documentation of the Reindeer Service in Alaska,” Alaska Park Science, 20(2): 37-45.
2021 (with Robin Shoaps) “Creating a Virtual Ethnographic Field School in an Off-Line Community of Practice,” Journal of Archaeology and Education, 5(1): Article 8.
2015 (with Amber Lincoln) “‘We take what we can get’: The long-lasting appetite for Rangifer on the Alaska Peninsula” in A. Lincoln and P. Plattet (eds.) Reindeer Herding on the Alaska Peninsula. Theme issue, Alaska Journal of Anthropology, Volume 12, Number 2 (2014): 4-22.
2015 (with Amber Lincoln, guest editors) Reindeer Herding on the Alaska Peninsula. Theme Issue, Alaska Journal of Anthropology, Volume 12, Number 2 (2014): 1-73.