Research Seminars 2011

Spring term 2011

28. 01. Round-table Discussion on ESF-COST: European Frames of Indigineity

11.02.  Jennifer Hays, UiT: Anthropology and the Evaluation of Norwegian Development Assistance: A report from Namibia

25.02. Trine Eide, UiT: Paths to Peace. Civic nationalism, transitional justice and agricultural reform in Rwanda (foreløpig tittel)

11.03. Sidsel Saugestad, UiT: Comparative Perspectives on the State Codification of Indigineity

01.04. Jon Schakt, UiT: Etniske og kulturelle identiteter.

15.04. John Andrew McNeish, NTNU: Contested Powers: Indigenous Peoples and their Rights to Resources in Bolivia and Latin America

15.04. John-Andrew McNeish: Associate Professor Noragric/UMB and Senior Researcher CMI: An Indian in the Burnt Palace: Indigenous Resource Rights and Competing Natures in Bolivia. Kurf Seminar.

When Evo Morales Ayma entered the Presidential Palace (known as the Burnt Palace because of its role as the focus of earlier protest and confrontations) in 2005, the indigenous majority of the Bolivian population celebrated the moment as marking the end of over 500 years of discrimination. Five years on, a new constitution and a radical regime of social policy exists formalizing the expansion of political and social rights.  Despite these changes many indigenous communities in the country argue that they have been let down by the government.  Doubts are now increasingly being raised in media coverage, academic writing and by a wide range of national political actors about the true revolutionary credentials of the MAS administration. Indeed, common characterization is now made of “Avatar”-like conditions where indigenous peoples and environmentalists are again seen confronting the state, to secure not only rights to land and territory, but to a sustainable way of life.

While it is correct to highlight the seriousness of these confrontations and the glaring failures of the current administration, I question in this paper whether the images of indigenous resistance described in recent writing are not oversimplified.  This paper demonstrates that current confrontations in Bolivia are more complex than current essentialized green and pristine images of indigeneity allow. Current confrontations are seen here not only to be involving a larger spectrum of interests than previously recognized, but as demonstrating internal conflicts between indigenous peoples themselves.

This paper highlights the manner in which Bolivian historical development and the particularities of multiple indigenous ideas of law, sovereignty, peace, prosperity and modernity require us to recognize the necessary ambiguity of indigeneity, and the existence of a complex matrix of contrasting, overlapping and at times conflicting demands. Indeed, the paper questions whether what is seen being played out in recent confrontations is not only the persisting failure of government, but a dynamic, and in part necessary, process in which conflicting norms and values related to the use of the environment continue to be worked through. As in the past, the “burnt palace” remains then a real space, and metaphor, capturing a confrontation between competing senses of development and nature.

20.05. Lisbet Holtedahl, UiT: The Muslm Industrialist Al Hajji Mohammadou Ousmanou Abb


Fall term 2011

09. 09. Workshop Diversity vs. homogenization. The challenge of multicultural politics in contemporary Latin America

16.09. Elisabeth Scheller, UiT: Kola Sami language revitalization – opportunities and challenges

30.09. Tommy Ose, UiB: Food waste

07.10. Petia Mankova, UiT: Traditional knowledge and unified standards: the professional school for reindeer herders in Lovosero, Northwest Russia

04.11. Bjorn Enge Bertelsen, UiB: “Frelimo, you are selling at very high prices”. The Mozambican urban riots of 2008 and 2010 and its relation to sovereign territory and urban poverty

9-11. 11. Beyond Boundaries: Exploring Concepts of Liminality and Alterity International Symposium and PhD Course

25. 11. Christine Smith-Simonsen, UiT: Articulations of indigeneity in the context of ethnic federalism (Ethiopia)