restricted access Whose Track Is It Anyway?: An Anthropological Perspective on Collaboration with Biologists and Hunters in Thule, Northwest Greenland


From May 2015 until May 2016, nineteen occupational hunters, two anthropologists, two biologists, and one GIS expert engaged in a project of collaborative data collection in Northwest Greenland. With handheld GPS devices and a specially designed software called Piniariarneq (Hunting Trip), hunters tracked their hunting routes, registered animals caught and observed, and photographed and videoed important places, events, and other phenomena they found interesting and relevant to register. This essay describes the conception and implementation of Piniariarneq, and uses this experience as a lens through which to examine questions about appropriation, responsibility, and ownership in collaborative research endeavors. By scrutinizing how different collaborative partners engaged in the process with differing interests and aims, and by showing how partners took ownership of Piniariarneq in different ways, we argue that collaboration always takes place through particular relations, positions, and interests. Any standardization of modes of and for collaboration are therefore problematic. Collaboration instead unfolds in complex processes that are difficult to plan because the different collaborating partners enter, push, and pull the collaboration in different directions, and because every collaboration takes place in its own particular historical context.