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Building a Sami Academy of Sciences: Science, Research, and Education for Decolonization
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. (Technoscience research group)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2820-0584
2015 (English)In: Indigenous Knowledge Sovereignties and Scientific Research / [ed] Sandra Harding/Kyle Powys Whyte, 2015Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

May-Britt Öhman, Uppsala University (may-britt.ohman@gender.uu.se)


Building a Sami Academy of Sciences: Science, Research, and Education for Decolonization


The production of technological modern identities within Scandinavia rests on the dispossession of Sámi people from our traditional lands, and thus our identities related to land and water. Technoscientific language and imagery continue to shape and reflect power relations which favor the modern nation states and dis-favor Sámi rights. Meanwhile there is currently a void of Sámi research platforms available, especially within Sweden. The vast majority of scholars doing research on Sámi territory and Sámi people are themselves non-Sámi. The current situation is highly problematic. It contributes to the creation of epistemological contexts which support increasing colonial exploitation and destruction of Sámi traditional territories. This paper describes an ongoing project to establish important structures and platforms to accommodate research initiated and led by Sámi in order to promote decolonization of technoscience for the benefit of the Sámi and Sámi society. The project includes a Sámi academy of sciences and a Sámi university. The presentation discusses collaborations with Sámi organisations, the Sámi parliament, individual reindeer herders, Sámi artists and film makers and other Sámi scholars. Important points of departure are to enable Sami peoples' continuance, healing and regeneration and to apply Sami knowledges and experiences as a basis for them to develop ecological innovations and technologies to facilitate the everyday life of reindeer herding.



Abstract [en]

Indigenous Knowledge Sovereignties and Scientific Research

Organized by Kyle Whyte (kwhyte@msu.edu) and Sandra Harding (sharding@gseis.ucla.edu).


Indigenous peoples across the globe are asserting their own institutions and projects for advancing Indigenous knowledge sovereignties and scientific research guided by Indigenous values and traditional knowledges. These institutions and projects vary depending on the particular Indigenous peoples, from Maori to Anishinaabe to Saami, the particular forms of colonial, neocolonial, and settler-colonial domination in different regions, and the theoretical strategies guiding resistance, such as Indigenous resurgence, resilience, decolonization, “Buen Vivir,” reciprocal guardianship and many others that are emerging in diverse literatures across Indigenous studies. This panel will convene presentations representing Indigenous spaces and intellectual traditions spanning many geographies, cosmologies and knowledge systems. The goals of the panel are (1) to compare and contrast differing critical views on science as expressions of resistance to different forms of colonial, neocolonial, and settler-colonial domination , (2) to put in dialogue emerging theories and practices of liberatory and resurging institutions and projects that are centered on Indigenous knowledges and governance of scientific research, and (3) to assist 4S in expanding the terrains and standpoints through which we can see a pluriverse of such liberatory and resurging institutions and practices operating and interacting with each other. 

Abstract [en]

Kyle Powys Whyte, Philosophy Department, Michigan State University (kwhyte@msu.edu)


Knowledge Sovereignty, Science and Indigenous Resurgence


Theories from settler-colonial studies are increasingly in dialogue with the work of Indigenous planners and scientists in the context of U.S. and Canadian settler states. Indigenous planners and scientists are working to engender knowledge systems that protect the flourishing of Indigenous communities and often seek to braid Indigenous and Western sciences within Indigenous regulatory and political institutions. Using cases from Anishinaabe nations in the Great Lakes region as well as cases of other Indigenous peoples in North America, this presentation will discuss how concepts of decolonization do not appropriately describe Indigenous resistance to the particular structures of U.S. and Canadian settler states. Instead, drawing on ideas from Indigenous Studies and Settler-Colonial Studies, I will argue for concepts such as resurgence and knowledge sovereignty as best characterizing epistemic responses to settler states. I will show how these concepts are part of the best work Indigenous planners and scientists are doing today to bolster Indigenous resilience.

Abstract [en]

Jay T. Johnson Geography Department and Indigenous Studies, University of Kansas (jaytjohnson@ku.edu); Renee Pualani Louis, University of Kansas; Liz Medicine Crow, First Alaskans Institute; Mark Palmer, University of Missouri


Facilitating Indigenous Leadership in Research


While most research in Indigenous communities has been geared toward uncovering information of interest to the Western scientific enterprise, Indigenous communities and researchers utilize research to address community concerns as well. By bringing together a network of Indigenous scientists, researchers and community organizers who represent communities, organizations, and academic institutions across the United States, we have established a research coordination network geared toward uncovering the research needs and capabilities of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. The vision of the FIRST network is to bridge Indigenous and Western sciences, through appropriate principles, protocols, and practices, in order to better understand the conditions of environmental vulnerability and the best strategies to achieve resilience by facilitating Indigenous-led research initiatives. The overall goal of this network is to develop strategies for meeting the research needs of Indigenous communities and to encourage communities to take leadership in meeting their own research needs. This paper will discuss the establishment of the FIRST network and its goals for the next five years.

Abstract [en]

Sandra Harding, Education and Gender Studies Departments, UCLA (sharding@gseis.ucla.edu)

Latin American Decoloniality, Buen Vivir, and Deep Scientific Pluralism


Latin American decoloniality theorists argue that the most desirable and soundest modern scientific epistemologies and ontologies at this moment in history will ground themselves in the concerns and insights of the new progressive social movements. They will produce “rear guard” theory. They have in mind the Zapatistas, Buen Vivir and other indigenous protest movements in Latin America, feminisms, and the groups participating in the World Social Forums that protest elite global economic and political policies. Neither Liberal democratic nor socialist theories have the epistemic or ontological resources to respond effectively to the liberatory needs and desires of these social movements, argue such theorists. This presentation focuses on an AmerIndian Andean highlands movement, Buen Vivir. While its philosophic projects certainly can look far too radical from the perspective of mainstream Northern philosophies and social studies of science, in fact there are significant openings and paths to their standpoints in recent postcolonial studies, work by Bruno Latour, The Disunity of Science contributors, the Minnesota School’s scientific pluralism, and feminist philosophies of science, as well as at least a few of the participants in the 2014 Buenos Aires meetings of 4S and ESOCITE.

Abstract [en]

Iokepa Casumbal-Salazar, University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Gender Studies and American Indian Studies, UCLA. (jsalazar@hawaii.edu)

Telescopophilia: The Astronomer’s Gaze And Settler Colonialism in Hawaiʻi


In Hawaiʻi, Western science’s claim to rationality is instrumental to advancing the settler colonial state. While continued dispossession is rationalized through multicultural scientific and legal discourses, a shape-shifting colonialism draws attention toward emergent subjectivities. Consider the issue of telescope development on the sacred summit of Mauna a Wākea, where settler practices of replacement hinge on the deracination of prior onto-genealogical relationships to ʻāina (land) and processes of meaning making. Whereas to ʻŌiwi the mountain is an ancestor-akua and piko (or umbilical link) to our origins, to astronomy expansionists the mountain is “Hawaiʻi’s gift to the world.” This paper intervenes in the scientific imperative and its cultural privilege through analysis of astronomy’s aesthetic and ocular practices. Inverting the telescope, I scrutinize the anonymous subject of the cosmic gaze to interrogate the gendered assumptions underpinning astronomy’s ways of looking. How does the astronomer’s compulsion to see “back in time” to “the origins of the universe” reveal more about ongoing colonialism than it does its objects of desire? I argue that settler colonial astronomy constitutes a disciplining of knowledge that facilitates epistemic closure, rather than answers existential questions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences Engineering and Technology Natural Sciences Humanities Agricultural Sciences Medical and Health Sciences Gender Studies Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268471OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-268471DiVA: diva2:877177
4S - Society for Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting 2015
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2012-1845

Commentator: Sharon Traweek, Gender Studies and History Departments, UCLA (traweek@history.ucla.edu)

Available from: 2015-12-05 Created: 2015-12-05 Last updated: 2015-12-05

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