Aileen Espíritu - Senior Research Fellow at the Barents Institute

Aileen A. Espíritu’s research project at the Barents Institute is entitled “Service Provision, Environmental Management, and Sustainable Communities: a qualitative comparative study of Quality of Life in the Barents Region.” Aileen started her research at Kirkenes in July 2007. The aim of this research project is to determine how a good quality of life of Barents communities is sustained, or in some cases attained in an environment of transformation and change brought on by the “new economy”.
E-mail: aileen.espiritu at
Aileen Espíritu’s doctoral dissertation examined the impact of oil and gas development on indigenous peoples in Northwest Siberia, and analysed the industrialisation (Sovietisation) of their culture, economies, and way of life. Espíritu has also done research on the quality of life of the Sakha people living in the diamond mining regions of the Sakha Republic, Russia. She has recently completed a project on the political participation of indigenous women and men in Northwest Siberia since the 1930s, and is presently part-time conducting a similar research project on gendered political participation of the Sámi of Northern Norway since 1945. Espíritu is native English speaker; her field interviews have been based on her knowledge of Russian and Tagalog which she is able to read and speak, and to write to some extent.
In her current research she is particularly focusing: Social quality and quality of life in the Arctic regions; Identity politics in indigenous and non-indigenous Northern communities; Gendered political participation among indigenous peoples of the Circumpolar North; The impact of industrialization and post-industrialization on small towns in the North; The politics of environmental management and energy security in Russia; The ethics of ethnography.
Espíritu has served as Assist. Prof. at the University of Northern British Columbia, she holds a PhD in History from the University of Alberta, Canada. She has extensive teaching experience, from among other courses in the following topics: Russian History, Politics, Social Development; Imperial Russia and Soviet History; The Circumpolar World (North); Special Topics in the History of Northern Europe: Nationalism and Nationalities Policies under the Soviet Regime; Themes in the History of Gender: Gender; Colonialism and Nationalism; Comparative Women's History: Gender, Nationalism and Citizenship; The Scandinavian Welfare State; Geography of the Circumpolar North; Feminist Theories: Gender, Nationalism; Aspects of International Relations; Economic History of Peripheral Regions: Colonisation and Development; Topics in the History of Gender: The Family; Folk Law, Legal Pluralism and Citizenship in Northern Europe; Environmental History. Notable among several awards, she successfully has obtained funding from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Gorbachev Foundation (University of Calgary), The Royal Norwegian Embassy (Ottawa) and the Northern Land Use Institute (University of Northern British Columbia).

Current research projects include:
  • Quality of life in one-industry towns and cities in the Barents Region.
  • The politicization of the Khanty and Mansi of Northwest Siberia: a gendered analysis.
  • Gendered political participation of indigenous Khanty and Mansi (Northwest Siberia) and Sami (Northern Norway) in comparative perspective.
  • The impact of oil and gas development on indigenous peoples of Northwest Siberia.
  • Energy security and Putin’s Russia.
Selected articles:
  • "Oil and Gas Development in Northwest Siberia: A Road of Discord," Northern Review. Accepted. Forthcoming, 2007.
  • “Russian Energy Security & Cross-border Cooperation: A Tool for Conflict Prevention” paper in press in the proceedings of: “Energy – The challenge of the 21st Century” conference hosted by the Madariaga European Foundation (MEF) at the European Foundation Centre’s (EFC) 18th Annual General Assembly (AGA), Madrid, Spain June 1st-3rd 2007.
  • "The Local Perspective: Interviews with Sakha in the Viliui River Region” Central Eurasian Studies Review, vol. 1 (2002) no. 1, Winter.
  • "Whither the Northern Natives in Russian History?" in: Kerry Abel and Ken S. Coates, eds. Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History (Broadview Press, 2001).
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