Gespräch mit ZDENKA SOKOLÍČKOVÁ
– How did the research project on Svalbard come about? The co- nnection between social anthropology and the Arctic circle might be considered unusual by some.
I chose Svalbard for several reasons. The town of Lon- gyearbyen is dubbed an “ICE community”, which stands for an isolated, compact and ex- treme settlement. It’s ideally suited to classic anthropologi- cal fieldwork, where a resear- cher is based in one place for a relatively long time. I opted for Norwegian Svalbard since the research tackled aspects
„The town of Longyearbyen is dubbed an “ICE community”, which stands for an isolated, compact and extreme settlement. „
I was interested in and that hadn’t been looked into there. However, the determining factor was personal—my hus- band, Jakub, who knew Sval-
bard well. He had studied and worked there, and was happy to support me in my decision to go there with the children for a few years.
– What did it mean for you as an anthropolo- gist, someone used to observing events exter-nally, to be filmed for a documentary?
The biggest challenge for me was something I call professi- onally “letting go”, which me- ans allowing the director tofind her own story in our lives and my work, but over which I had no control. The entire process, which lasted several years, was a constant dialogue between the director and me, as well as Jakub and me, and within myself. It didn’t always go smoothly, and I can’t say exactly when things turned
a corner, but the completion of the film was quite harmo- nious. It must have been some kind of movie magic that I don’t understand.
I’m curious to see how the film resonates with different audiences, how it will be received by people in Longye- arbyen, and what discussions
at the screenings shall take place. I‘m excited and a little bit scared.
– The findings of rese- arch in social sciences usually only appeal to the professional public. Did you agree to take part in the film to addre- ss this and, possibly, also allow a wider audience to see how field research is carried out and gain insight into its mea- ning?
The motivation was certainly not to “educate” viewers. Wat- ching the film, it’s clear that it doesn’t present you with any information or answers. It‘s more of an open matter, just like my research and, sorry but it sounds rather pathetic, like human life in general. Instead, I was motivated to appear in it by a vague, rather intuitive belief that it’s possi- ble to visually tell a mosaic
of stories about a small town, which, although very speci- fic, is nevertheless part of a warming world full of inequa- lities. I could never do that on my own.