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POLAR BEAR RESEARCH AS AN ETHICAL SPACE, PRACTICE AND PROCESS OF ENGAGEMENT

PhD research

With my PhD research, I propose to use artistic practice to explore what affective change towards an ethical space, process and practice of engagement can be established between western and Inuit knowledge in polar bear research and management.

 

Genome Canada BearWatch project

My PhD research involves a case study of several polar bear monitoring research projects initiated by Dr. Peter van Coeverden-De Groot, Prof. Stephen Lougheed, Prof. Graham Whitelaw, and Markus Dyck. The purpose of these projects is to develop a community-based biomonitoring program that combines a non-invasive genomics toolkit with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) to co-produce knowledge. The outcomes of piloting these non-invasive, community-based monitoring methods are meant to inform future polar bear monitoring and management.

 

CURRENT AREAS OF STUDY

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Image by Annie Spratt
Image by Annie Spratt

THE ETHICAL SPACE OF ENGAGEMENT

AESTHETIC ACTION

THE LAND-
KNOWLEDGE-
SCAPE

 

HIGHLIGHTED RECOGNITION & SUPPORT

Awards

Scholarship funding 2021-2024

SSHRC VANIER CANADA GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP

The Vanier CGS program aims to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health sciences. Canadian and international students are eligible to be nominated for a Vanier CGS.

Scholarship funding 2019

PRINS BERNARD CULTUURFONDS

DutchCulture is the network and knowledge organisation for international cultural cooperation. We support the Dutch cultural and creative sector, public authorities and diplomatic posts in the pursuit of their international ambitions.

 
 

FROM INTEGRATION TO RELATIONS

In Nunavut, polar bears are co-managed by federal and Inuit governing bodies. Following the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, it became mandatory to incorporate Inuit knowledge and values in wildlife management and research. However, the ideal of knowledge integration within wildlife conservation research and co-management, too often translates to a practice of box-ticking or knowledge appropriation - despite the many research proposals stating intensions to do otherwise. There is a rich body of knowledge from Indigenous and critical scholars on how to relate, in an ethical manner, different ways of knowing the world. Their approaches often allow for both demarcation of sacred spaces for knowledges that are irreconcilable with western ways of knowing, as well as for exploration of how we can bring together differentiated knowledge(s) on the bases of ethical relationships and mutually agreed upon rules of engagement (see Ermine, 2007). Yet, despite Nunavut’s wildlife co-management system and the prevalent rhetoric of knowledge reconciliation, such approaches are not practiced, and spaces and processes around polar bear research and management are still dominated by euro-scientific ideologies, paradigms, and structures


My research takes a (co-)creative approach to directing attention towards the disconnect between the rhetoric of knowledge reconciliation and current practices within polar bear monitoring and management. Through practicing and facilitating (co-) creative aesthetic action, I seek to explore what affective change towards an ethical space, process and practice of engagement can be achieved in polar bear research and management. As opposed to focussing on outcomes, I question how artistic practice can have social and political effects through our affective engagements with them. And to what degree these affective engagements can result in change (see e.g. Martin & Robinson, 2016).

 

UNESCO RILA PODCAST

University of Glasgow

This presentation and workshop was created by Saskia de Wildt (Queen's University, Canada) and Leonard Netser (Coral Harbour, Nunavut) and is presented by Saskia de Wildt.

Abstract:

In Nunavut, polar bears are co-managed by federal and Inuit governing bodies. Following the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, it is mandatory to incorporate Inuit knowledge and values in wildlife management and research. However, the ideal of knowledge integration within wildlife conservation research and co-management, too often translates to a practice of box-ticking or knowledge appropriation - despite many research proposals stating intensions to do otherwise.

There is a rich body of knowledge from Indigenous and critical scholars on how to relate, in an ethical manner, different ways of knowing the world. Their approaches often allow for both demarcation of sacred spaces for knowledges that are irreconcilable with western ways of knowing, as well as for exploration of how we can bring together differentiated knowledge(s) on the bases of ethical relationships and mutually agreed upon rules of engagement (see Ermine, 2007).

In this episode, Saskia will elaborate on the collaborate efforts she and Leonard are working on to turn polar bear research into an ethical space, process and practice of engagement.

Saskia de Wildt is a creator/researcher. She is currently a PhD Vanier Scholar at Queen’s University, Canada, but has her roots in the Netherlands.  Her work transcends boundaries and binaries, but always gravitates close to decolonial theory, sensory ethnography and art. She is interested in applying art-direction, performance art and critical theory towards sustainable development and conservation challenges. To find out more about Saskia, please visit her website www.gingertheworld.com

Leonard Netser is a hunter and an artist, based in Coral Harbour. As he has grown up and has always lived on the land of Southampton Island, he doesn’t only know the land intimately, he is also well connected to multiple hamlets and individuals on the Island and beyond. He speaks fluent Inuktitut in multiple dialects which made it possible to receive mentorship and advice from community elders.

Leonard has previously collaborated with the BearWatch team as a principle investigator in Coral Harbour for the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program grant, titled; “Nunavummiut Polar Bear Surveys on Southampton Island: Toward Nunavummiut-inclusive Polar Bear Monitoring and Arctic Climate Change Impact Assessment’’.

His culture doesn’t believe in boasting achievements, but rather in telling stories. In his own words his expertise therefore lies all around the Tundra. His skills however, are applicable far beyond.

The music in this episode is from Uppbeat https://uppbeat.io/t/zimpzon/calm License code: KA9TXLHOS09RQY8Q