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  • 1.
    Öhman, May-Britt
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism. Luleå tekniska universitet, ETS, historia .
    Helsdotter, Eva Charlotta
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism.
    Aira, Gun
    Sirges sámi village.
    Aira, Anna Kajsa
    Sirges Sámi Village.
    Burnett, Scott
    Nilsen, Liz-Marie
    Acosta, Ignacio
    Sámi Perspectives on Climate Change, Green Colonialism, Forest Firest, Industrial Exploitations and Food Sovereignty2019Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Annual Meeting, June 26-29 2019, Waikato University, Aotearo (New Zealand)

    Panel 2019

    Title: Sámi Perspectives on Climate Change, Green Colonialism, Forest Fires, Industrial Exploitations and Food Sovereignty.

    Addressing and analysing climate change leading to forest fires and burnt reindeer grazing lands in summer, as well as “locked in” reindeer food in winter, the whiteness and coloniality of "green" political campaigning, the consequences of industrial exploitations of Sémi territories — and the Sámi resistance and struggles to find solutions and challenge a colonial destructive knowledge paradigm - this panel is ultimately addressing Indigenous Food Sovereignty and thereby future survival for Indigenous peoples in general and Sami in particular. Organised by a Sámi scholar at Uppsala University, the panel brings together community, scholars and non-Sámi/ non-Indigenous scholars from Sweden, Chile/UK, South Africa approaching the theme from multiple angles and aims at setting up a network for continued collaboration among ourselves and interested NAISA participants. The panel is partly financed by a research project led by Dr May-Britt Öhman on Indigenous Climate Change Studies (FORMAS 2019- 2021), within the Swedish National Research Programme on Climate. Film and drone technology as a means for research, communication and dissemination is used. Case studies are from Jåhkåmåhkke and Ljusdal on the Swedish side of Sébme, and from the Talvivaara tin mine, Finland, where a tailing darn failure occurred in 2012-2013.

     

    Chair and organiser:  Dr May-Britt Öhman, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism, Uppsala University and guest researcher at Luleå University of Technology, division of history.

     

    1. Gun Aira and Anna Kajsa Aira,  Sirges Sámi Village, Jåhkåmåhkke (Jokkmokk)

    Sámi perspectives on climate change and imposed flexibility: experiences from reindeer herding in the Lule River valley

    This is a presentation of a documentation project regarding climate changes – from our sijdda reindeer herding group, consisting of myself, my two children and a cousin’s child. On the one hand, we document climate changes, and on the other hand we show how industrial exploitation and forestry impact on our ability to be “resilient”: an imposed flexibility.

    We work and live along the Lule River, moving between winter and summer lands, stretching from the mountains in the west, to 100 km east of Jåhkåmåkke. Fifty years ago, the conditions were totally different from today. The reindeer were tamer and didn’t fear humans. We worked on skis, humans and reindeer lived together under the same conditions. There were few forestry roads, and no snowmobiles with their tracks. Lichen on the trees was plentiful. The lichen on the ground was not destroyed by forestry machines. We rarely had to transport reindeer by trucks, and rarely had to support-feed them. The reindeer could support themselves most of the time.

    Today, due to exploitation and climate changes combined, we have to support-feed the reindeer every year. Because of rapid temperature changes, snow falls, turns to water, and then freezes, “locking in” the ground lichen. The trees are also cut down, and so no tree lichen is available.

    Our project departs from our perspectives, defining the problems and the solutions. The ambition is to communicate our findings and recommendations to the public and decision makers, with a view to protect our future, our Sámi culture.

     

    2. Eva Charlotta Helsdotter, Uppsala University

    Under the surface: Water, pollution, and threats against Sámi food security – learning from the Talvivaara tailings dam failure

     

    Clean and safe water is the key to food security and food sovereignty. How can Sámi/Indigenous waters be protected from the destructive mining policies in the era of climate change mitigation and the scramble for metals needed for electrical cars, batteries, solar cells, and wind-power plants? How can awareness of the toxic pollution of tailings dams be raised among the public and decision-makers? This presentation is part of a film project about the Talvivaara tin mine in Finland, and the disastrous tailings dam failures in 2012-2013. A research group consisting of myself, May-Britt Öhman, and the independent filmmaker Storlöpare visited the site in 2017, conducting video interviews and documenting  the area. The failure caused massive problems. Leakage from the tailings dam is still ongoing, polluting waters all the way to the city of Oulu, and into the Baltic Sea. On the opposite side of the Baltic Sea, in Sweden, several mines are located in Sámi territories, and more mines are planned. In 2013, the Swedish government adopted a Mineral Strategy in which they claim to exploit mineral assets in a “long-term sustainable way, with consideration shown for ecological, social and cultural dimensions...”. Yet, respect for Sámi people is still lacking. The aim of the project is to reach a wider audience, and to support ongoing struggles to protect Sámi lands and waters. At NAISA, the ambition is to show an example of how to join film and scientific research, and to receive suggestions on how to proceed.

     

    3.  Liz-Marie Nilsen and Ignacio Acosta

    Fighting climate change and forest fires – from a Sámi perspective

    We present a research project documenting experiences from forest fires in two municipalities within Sámi territories.

    The summer of 2018 was extremely hot and dry in Sweden, with up to 50 forest fires raging simultaneously. In Jåhkåmåkke – which has 5000 inhabitants, and an area of 19 477 km2 – as many as four fires raged simultaneously during July. With the support of volunteers, and building on experiences from a major fire in 2006, disaster was avoided. In Ljusdal – which has 19000 inhabitants, and an area of 5288 km2 – the fires spread out of control, and people had to be evacuated.  Understanding what went well in Jåhkåmåkke and what went wrong in Ljusdal may provide lessons to be learned: it is not only about climate change, it is also about firefighting competence. Another aspect, highlighted from the Sámi perspective, concerns disaster relief: while forest owners resort to insurance, there is no such relief for reindeer herders, as they don’t own the grazing lands. According to the Sámi Parliament’s application for disaster relief to the Swedish government, 31 out of 51 Sámi reindeer herding villages and 21 500 hectare of grazing lands burned.

    Due to climate change we can expect more of the same in the future. Thus the consequences of forest fires for reindeer grazing need to be addressed and mitigated, at the same time as it is of major importance to reclaim local and traditional knowledge on firefighting, demanding that the actors involved are prepared and ready when it happens again.

     

    4. Scott Burnett, Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg)

    The whiteness of green ideology: Swedish environmentalism as colonial vanguard

    The violent occupation and appropriation of land in Sápmi for Swedish hydro- and wind-power projects has been opposed by Sámi scholars and activists for over a century. Yet Sweden has maintained its reputation on the world stage both as a humanitarian and green “superpower”. The narrative of “good Sweden” has worked to (re)produce the nation as a space where whiteness is the unquestioned norm, and settler colonialism passes as common sense. Environmentalist communication in this context shapes ethical subjectivity, and legitimises the colonial base of the modern welfare state.

    This paper presents a discourse-theoretical analysis of the construction of “renewable” energy around the 2018 elections. It investigates closely the Swedish Green Party’s election platform at a national level, and also zooms in to Jåhkåmåkke municipality, and Sámi candidate Henrik Blind’s successful campaign for office. While Sámi issues remain “unspeakable” at a national level, local political texts reveal complex accommodations and contestations. I argue that mainstream Swedish environmentalism constructs the argument for renewable energy as a series of impossible choices.

    While this research has been pursued in conversation with Sámi scholars, I do not speak for or from a Sámi position. I am a descendant of the European settler colonialists of South Africa, and I have recently relocated to Sweden. My approach to critical “race” and indigenous studies research is to problematise the colonial centre and the “whiteness” it reproduces, in the tradition of critical whiteness and settler colonial studies.

     

  • 2.
    Öhman, May-Britt
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
    Palo, Mirja
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
    Thunqvist, Eva-Lotta
    Public participation, Human Security and Public Safety around Dams in Sweden: A case study of the regulated Ume and Lule Rivers2016In: Safety Science Monitor, ISSN 1443-8844, Vol. 19, no 2, article id 8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper presents findings from an empirical study of the current situation with geographical focus on two rivers in the north of Sweden, encompassing parts of the indigenous territory Sápmi. The major focus in Sweden with regards to “dam safety” is on the prevention of dam failure, and emergency preparedness. The issue of “public safety around dams” is left aside to the detriment of “human security”. While a major dam failure may cause the death of hundreds up to thousands of people, the current rate of human deaths caused by dam failure in the last 40 years is one person. The number of fatalities that may be referred to as having been caused by a lack of “public safety around dams” on the Lule River only amounts to 1-2 individuals per year. The risks and dangers involved also cause stress, anxiety, and difficulties on an everyday basis for residents along the regulated rivers and water courses. From a study of literature, available statistics, interviews and newspaper reports we discuss the accidents and incidents over the last decade (2002-12), how these may be defined as “public safety around dams”, the void of work to prevent such accidents and how the surrounding societal contexts play in, such as the lack of availability to fast and efficient emergency rescue services to be able to save lives in the event of a major disaster.

    Finally, we discuss the current void of public participation and make recommendations to enhance public participation and thereby possibilities to an enhanced public safety around dams in Sweden.

  • 3.
    Öhman, May-Britt
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
    Sandström, Camilla
    Umeå universitet, Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen..
    Thunqvist, Eva-Lotta
    Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Stockholm.
    Designing Dam Safeties: Perspectives on Large Scale Dams within the Intra-actions of Technology, Nature and Human Decision-Making2016In: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, ISSN 2212-4209Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Analyzing the intra-actions between the actors involved, this paper presents results from interviews and participatory observations with local authorities, local inhabitants, power companies representatives as well as dam operators. We argue that the Swedish model for dam safety currently is suffering from a major deficiency as the expertise and understanding of the technical constructions remain among the dam owners and that the societal authority in charge of supervising the dam owners work have no capability of achieving the same level of understanding and thus to take informed and relevant decisions. Furthermore we argue that the lack of technical understanding of dams and hydropower outside of the dam sector has become a huge threat to dam safety as state representatives and political decision makers currently allow and even encourage mining exploitation both next to high risk classified hydropower dams and even within existing hydropower reservoirs.

    We argue that the actual challenge to safeguard an increased dam safety is by bridging the gap between the multitude of different actors– engineers/operators, users, political decision makers -   in order to generate new understandings and new methodologies to deal with risk, safety and security. It is necessary to bridge the gaps between the sectors and actors involved, and that this should be done through investment in close collaboration between the dam sector and engineering research on the one hand and social sciences and humanities on the other – to ensure understandings of political decision making as well as of technical artifacts and water flows.

    The geographical focus is on two rivers – the Ume River and the Lule River in the north of Sweden. Both rivers are of major importance for national production of electricity, and the rivers are water suppliers for a large amount of inhabitants.

  • 4.
    Öhman, May-Britt
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
    Thunqvist, Eva-Lotta
    Human Bodies and the Forces of Nature: Technoscience Perspectives on Hydropower Dams, Safety, Human Security, Emotions and Embodied Knowledges2016In: International Journal of Technoscience and Development, ISSN 2001-2837, Vol. 1, no 1, p. 1-14Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Hydropower has commonly been promoted as an environmentally friendly and renewable energy resource. Despite this, the major negative social and ecological impacts on the environment and its local inhabitants have been well established for a long time, as well as the high risks for large-scale disasters caused by hydropower dam failures. Drawing on a qualitative study that focuses on the Lule River in Sweden, this article analyses the cultural politics of emotions with regard to dams, reservoirs, safety and human security.

    Annually between one and two major dam failures occur around the world, with major consequences for human and non-human lives, the environment and the economy, and the issue has been addressed in policy making and within the work of power companies since the 1970’s. However, more people die due to accidents on dams and reservoirs than due to dam failures. In Sweden, the number of hydropower regulation related deaths within the demographically small municipality of Jokkmokk, where a major part of Sweden’s hydropower is being produced, is on average 0,02 per cent per year, or 1-2 persons, which would correspond to 180-360 deaths in the Swedish capital Stockholm. Yet, there are no calls for inquiries, investigations and measurements to ensure public safety around dams in Sweden. Linking these two aspects on hydropower dams and safety through the concept of human security we identify a void of understanding and valuing the importance of humans’ – operators - lived experiences and invested emotions in the work to avoid dam failures, accidents on the reservoirs and loss of lives. We address the fact that the operators live and are related to the inhabitants of the regulated Lule River and what role this may play in enhanced human security.

              We argue that technical reports and studies on dam safety are written in a way that invokes false emotions of control, safety and security for inhabitants as well as political decision makers. New technologies for camera surveillance and monitoring provide opportunities to assemble data on a dam and the water flowing through it (seepage), with the purpose to enhance safety. However, we suggest that these systems actually may produce false emotions of safety and security, reinforcing a paradigm of perceived control of nature’s forces and thereby may contribute to decreased safety and human security.

  • 5.
    Helsdotter, Eva Charlotta (Director, Translator, Narrator, Producer)
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism.
    Öhman, May-Britt (Contributor, Producer)
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism. Luleå tekniska universitet, ETS, historia .
    Storlöpare, Petri (Videographer, Producer, Translator)
    Slowlife Film.
    The Talvivaara Mine: Water consequences2019Artistic output (Unrefereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A film about the Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo, Finland. Produced within the research project Dálkke: Indigenous Climate Change Studies.

    "Don't be afraid, we come in peace and offer jobs!"  The mine was not going to have any harmful effects on the surrounding areas according to the CEO. However, this soon turned out to be false. The impacts of the mine in terms of pollution of water courses and lakes is enormous. Both due to a failure of the tailing dam, and also of the constantly ongoing pollution.

    This is a filmpresentation of a research project, within the Dálkke: Indigenous Climate Change Studies, FORMAS Dnr 2017-01923, led by Dr May-Britt Öhman, Uppsala University, within the Swedish National research programme on climate.

    Please reference as: Helsdotter, Eva Charlotta; Öhman, May-Britt, and Storlöpare, Petri, 2019. The Talvivaara Mine - Water consequences. Film 12.41'. Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR), Uppsala University, Uppsala.

    Project leader and Research: Dr May-Britt Öhman and Associate Professor, Dr. Eva Charlotta Helsdotter

    Project leader movie: Associate Professor, Dr. Eva Charlotta Helsdotter

    Photo, editing, subtitles and translation from Finnish: Petri Storlöpare, Slowlife Film

    Translation to English: Associate Professor, Dr. Eva Charlotta Helsdotter

    Drone photo: Sotkamo Naturskyddsförening

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