Posted: March 23rd, 2023

“We are Going Underwater” by Susan A. Crate

In “We are Going Underwater,” Susan A. Crate writes about Sakha, an indigenous community living in Siberia. The author focuses on the community’s culture, including how they have maintained ties with their ancestral land and practices. Susan also addresses climate change in Siberia and how it has impacted Sakha, a native community whose lifestyle strongly depends on their land, a significant source of survival. An analysis of this reading reveals how subtle and gradually increasing changes in cycles and patterns of weather and climate influence local culture by causing direct loss of material heritage, native territory, and cultural heritage.

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Subtle and gradually increasing change in weather and climate influences local culture by causing heritage loss. This premise is evidenced by the plight of Siberian villagers since climate change kicked in after the region adopted industrialization during Soviet rule. In her narrative, “We are Going Underwater,” Susan notes that Sakha is an indigenous community that has long relied on their land or environment for survival (Mccurdy et al. 89). Most importantly, the community rears animals for food and uses them for cultivation. However, the subtle and gradually increasing climate and weather changes affect the community’s cultural heritage, such as changing their slaughtering and harvest seasons because of the prolonged winter cycles that hinder crop growth and cause livestock starvation. Climate change also causes losses of cultural heritage, such as the methods the community has used to store and preserve their produce. As Susan notes, Sakha has for generations relied on unheated storage to preserve and keep their food (Mccurdy et al. 90). However, the ongoing changes in weather patterns and seasons make it challenging for the community to maintain such practices.

Besides heritage loss, climate change also influences local cultures by triggering the loss of material and territorial boundaries. For example, the Sakha community is strongly tied to its ancestral land in Siberia, which acts as a sense of their identity alongside other elements such as language. However, climate change has led to the loss of material things such as land and the loss of territorial boundaries. According to Mccurdy et al., this loss is evidenced in the reading where Susan notes that Sakha communities have been forced to move further past their ancestral boundaries because of the increased flooding in their native land (89). While Sakha remains resilient and refuses to leave the land, it is evident that several aspects of their cultural and material heritage have changed due to climate change.


Works Cited

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Mccurdy, David W., et al. Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Pearson, 2016.


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