March 17, 2021
We are thrilled to announce that Whale Snow by Chie Sakakibara is the winner of the AAG 2020 Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography! This award is given for a book written by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.
“In Whale Snow, Chie Sakakibara pioneers a vision of surviving humankind and kin safely segueing a conjoined path in the future. On the frontier between tundra and ocean, she engaged in the kind of years-long fieldwork that exemplary geographers have pursued for generations in an effort to understand the why of where. Recognizing that whales and whaling remain integral to Inupiat lifeways, despite the onslaught of globalization and climate change, her work explores and elucidates the significance of bowhead whales to the persistence of Inupiaq culture and community.
This book offers a rare, qualified, and yet substantiated optimism to readers around the world. Hers is a vision of “being in a togetherness” that perseveres against myriad adversities on the near horizon, and that can continue to do so far into the future. This research is exemplary in its
sustained commitment to the community. It demonstrates the best of embedded, ethically-driven, and collaborative knowledge production. Those who seek, through their own studies with diverse cultural communities of practice, to overcome – as do the whaling Inupiat of Alaskan North Slope Borough, in unity with their animal kin — the existential threats of our unprecedented and contingent present will be inspired and transformed by reading this book.
In so many ways, Whale Snow epitomizes the essence of geography as an art, science, method, literary practice, and a way of understanding and relating to the world.”— The American Association of Geographers
Chie Sakakibara is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College. She was trained in cultural geography, art history, and Indigenous studies. Her work explores human dimensions of global environmental change among Indigenous peoples. Native to Japan, Sakakibara is a proud adoptive member of the Iñupiaq whaling community. Her love of humans and nonhuman animals manifests in her academic work as well as in her life with one human daughter and two canine sons.