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Just in time for the holidaze

November 10, 2012

I haven’t had much time for posting in the last month or so, but after having visited a local store, I thought I should reiterate a point I’ve made before: penguins do not live in the Arctic. And walrus and reindeer do not live in the Antarctic. Although, I will have to admit, on a plane ride I sat next to a Finnish ornithologist and I learned that in that great time period known as the age of exploration, a species of flightless Auk did, indeed, live in the Arctic. Alas, they are now extinct do to the over-hunting of the bird to feed starving sailors.










Yes these are very cute holiday gift cards and bags and it seems obvious that we should just read this as “polar” and let it go at that (because, obviously, polar always means winter always means Christmas. Winter equals presents!). But as I said before, it matters that we know the difference between the North and South Pole and the creatures who live in each geographic location. It is too easy, when coming from a position of power–and I mean a position that controls how images are distributed and what representations and symbolic systems are allowed–to be able to not make the effort to know the specifics of the places and people considered to be on the margins. And those on the margins are never allowed the same ability to “not know” the dominant culture/s. This is essentially Dipesh Chakrabarty’s thesis in his highly recommended, Provincializing Europe.

Along with my ant/arctic friends above, I’d just like to reiterate another point, one that comes up every Halloween and is perhaps better stated here and here: Inuit people actually exist and have a complex history, political system, and contemporary culture. This simply is unnecessary and should no longer be an issue that needs addressing:










If you come across any egregious misappropriations of arctic peoples and creatures with a holiday theme, post them in the comments. Happy Holidays!

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