Session 2. Who gets to tell the Arctic stories?

Session description:

Today there is a growing academic, political and economic interest in the Arctic, including geographical areas inhabited by Indigenous peoples. Much of this interest is connected to climate change, natural resources and tourism. This new attention directed towards these marginal topographies importantly also entails a renewed awareness of the peoples who live there; primarily first Nation communities in Northern and Arctic areas in Europe, USA and Canada. This session welcomes contributions from all Arctic regions, and aim to analyze who gets to tell the stories of the rapidly changing Arctic in national and international fora.

Most of the Arctic communities have been subjected to settler colonisation. In Scandinavia the Sámi historian, Veli-Pekka Lehtola, has for example pointed to how the territories originally inhabited by the Sámi came to the possession of the Nordic countries as a result of a long intervention from the sixteenth- to eighteenth century on (Lehtola 2015, 25). Even though the Sámis’ right to collective self-determination, and to define their own identity in accordance with their own customs and traditions, has been affirmed in the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP, article 33–1), this right is constantly under pressure from the national states in Norway, Sweden, and Finland (Hætta 2002). Furthermore, as argued by Laura Junka-Aikio (2016); the possibilities to address the serious challenges that are facing the viability of life in the north, such as the expansion of the mining industries, damages to the natural environment, depopulation etc., are weak, and the voices of the indigenous populations are often effectively silenced. At the same time, many indigenous communities are currently engaged in processes of tracing and reviving knowledge of landscape and spaces – as well as exploring the issue of discontinuity: how memory and knowledge seem to be irretrievably lost in the aftermath of colonization, modernization, and assimilation politics.

This proposed session thus aims at addressing and analyzing this complex situation, by expanding the focus from the Nordic countries to a broader, international pan-Arctic perspective. What are the implications of Arctic colonialism to the politics of knowledge? How may current research contribute to the recognition of the colonization of indigenous lands and to its implications for indigenous experiences in the present? What are the limits to what non-indigenous scholars may study, articulate and understand? How much is it  possible for non-indigenous scholars to learn from indigenous perspectives? (Tuhiwai Smith 1999). Can we apply such learnings in our own research? Who gets to tell the stories about the Arctic today?

Science committee:

  • Sigrid Lien, Professor, Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen, Norway (lead)
  • Laura Orvokki Junka-Aikio, UiT, The Arctic University Museum of Norway
  • Hilde Nielssen, Associate Professor, Intercultural Studies, NLA University College, Bergen, Norway
  • Knut Mikjel Rio,  Professor, Department of Cultural History, University Museum of Bergen, Norway
  • Eva Dagny Johansen, PhD student, University of Oslo & Alta Museum, Norway
Alexey Pavlov Photo: Lars Olav Sparboe

Alexey Pavlov
+47 948 45 342

This page uses cookies, read more about it here »