About / Staff


Igor Krupnik

Igor KrupnikDr. Igor Krupnik joined the ASC in September 1991, first as an international visiting scholar under the SI Fellowship program (1991-94) and, later, as a staff Ethnologist/Research Anthropologist (since 1994). He became Curator of the Arctic and Northern Ethnology collections in 2005, and he is currently in charge of more than 30,000 ethnological objects at the NMNH from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Siberia, and the Northwest Coast. He is the Head of the Ethnology Division of the NMNH Department of Anthropology since 2010.

Igor was born in Russia and was trained as a human geographer and cultural anthropologist. He has degrees in Geography (1973, University of Moscow), ethnography/cultural anthropology (Ph.D. 1977, Institute of Ethnology, Russian Academy of Sciences), and ecology and subsistence management (Full Doctorate, 1991, Institute of Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences). His primary research fields include: modern cultures, ecological knowledge, and cultural heritage of the Arctic people, primarily in Alaska and Siberia; culture change and contact history; human ecology; history of Arctic science and indigenous studies; impact of modern climate change on Arctic residents. Igor has done extensive field research in the Western Arctic, primarily in Alaska (on St. Lawrence Island and Seward Peninsula), in the Bering Strait area, and across the Russian Arctic.

Prior to his move to the Smithsonian, Igor was Visiting Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (in 1991), and he worked for 15 years as Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow (1976-1990). At the ASC, Igor has been involved in several research, publication, exhibit and community-oriented initiatives that focused on the impact of global climate change, the preservation of cultural heritage, the ecological knowledge of indigenous people and the history of science in the Arctic/North Pacific region. Since joining the Smithsonian in 1991, he published more than 20 books, edited volumes and exhibit catalogs; guest-edited six special journal issues, and produced numerous papers in anthropological journals and collected volumes published in the U.S., Canada, UK, Japan, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Sweden. In 2006, he was the lead science curator of the NMNH exhibit, Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely that featured the impact of climate change upon polar residents and indigenous people. He serves on Editorial Boards of three international Arctic journals, Arctic Anthropology, Etudes/Inuit/Studies, and Acta Borealia, and he was among the founders of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) in 1990 and a member of its governing Council in 1990–1995 and in 2004–2008.

Igor’s major recent contribution to Arctic science was his leading role in the planning and implementation of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2008. He served on the Joint (Steering) Committee for IPY and was instrumental in bringing socio-cultural and humanities studies, ecological knowledge, and environmental observations of northern indigenous people to its program. For his role in building bridges among social and natural scientists, and polar indigenous people Igor received a medal from the International Arctic Science Committee in 2012. In 2009–2011, he served as the lead editor for the IPY summary volume, “Understanding Earth’s Polar Challenge: International Polar Year 2007–2008” produced by a large international team of 250 contributors. Igor’s main scholarly effort during IPY 2007–2008 was the multi-national project called SIKU (“Sea Ice Knowledge and Use”). It embraced coordinated activities of more than 80 researchers and indigenous partners from Canada, US, Russia, Greenland, and France working on the documentation of local knowledge, climate change observations, and the use of the sea-ice environment in 20 indigenous communities from Bering Strait to Greenland.

Click here to download a list of Dr. Krupnik's publications.