POLAR BEAR RESEARCH AS AN ETHICAL SPACE, PRACTICE AND PROCESS OF ENGAGEMENT
With my PhD research, I propose to use artistic practice and aesthetic action 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 (the late) 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 MY STUDY
THE ETHICAL SPACE OF ENGAGEMENT
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).
As a PhD candidate that explores ways to engage differentiated knowledges within Canadian Arctic research, and polar bear monitoring research specifically, I am interested in practices that move beyond 'integration/inclusion' approaches. As such I theorize PRACTICE according to the framework of "ethical space" (Ermine, 2007). For such practice to take place we need a "third" space - outside of each knowledge system.
To create such a space, where multiple knowledge systems can meaningfully negotiate their mutual terms of engagement, western systems need to "roll back/decolonize/question their positionality" first. My persona (beyond bringing playfulness and hopefully a smile to your face) invites especially non-indigenous researchers to rethink and reflect on their role and position in our scientific landscape. As a figure that potentially unsettles several norms within the Arctic sciences, Mx. Science holds potential to invoke conversations, and create a liminal space to build new relationships. As a situated performance it is both an exercise in new ways of engaging each other through genuine curiosity, as well as an effective tool to que(e)ry where and when differentiated bodies dis/connect in space.