In anticipation for the International Conference on Indigeneity and Education, we have asked our keynote speakers, Anna-Lill Drugge and Sanna Valkonen, to briefly introduce themselves and give us a preview of what they will be presenting on at the conference.
1. What is your current position at your institution and what projects are you involved in at the moment?
Anna-Lill Drugge: I am currently working as a senior lecturer/associate professor in Sámi studies at the Department of Language Studies at Umeå University. Apart from teaching myself, I am currently engaged in the issue of integrating Sami issues in the mainstream educational system in Sweden, and I collaborate with for instance Sáminuorra (Nuoras Nurrii) and Samiskt informationscentrum (samer.se).
Sanna Valkonen: I am a professor of Sámi research in the faculty of social sciences at the University of Lapland. I am currently leading two parallel research projects named “The ontological politics of Sámi cultural heritage”. These projects are funded by the Academy of Finland (1.9.2019-31.8.2023) and the Kone Foundation (1.1.2019-31.12.2021).
2. What are your research areas of interest and how do they pertain to theme of the conference?
ALD: My research interests are first and foremost related to questions concerning research ethics, gender studies and education, all of which are of relevance to the conference theme.
SV: The main themes of my research have dealt with the questions of indigeneity, belonging, political subjectivity and identity, gender, religion as well as related power relations in the Sámi context. In addition, the relationship between fixed and fluid identities and the invisible continuities and structures of colonialism in the Sámi and Finnish society have been central to my research. Recently, the focus of my research has extended to the questions of Sámi cultural heritage and human-nature relations as well as environmental questions, traditional knowledge and developing Sámi research concepts and methods in cooperation with other Sámi researchers, artists and cultural experts.
3. What are you planning to talk about at the conference?
ALD: Very often, we argue that there is a fundamental problem in society in terms of the majority population not having sufficient knowledge about Sami issues. Equally often, we state that the educational system is, at least to a great extent, to blame. However, we seldom discuss how this can be changed in practice, and what we can actually do to change this situation. In my presentation, I will talk about the need to create possible tools for teachers in mainstream education that can support them in their efforts to highlight Sami issues in their daily teaching practice. I will give examples of and discuss a number of difficulties that teachers consider to be of hindrance to them and introduce some possible ways to move forward in supporting teachers to introduce and include Sami content in their classrooms.
SV: The title of my speech is “The New Scales of the Sámi Citizenship” and I will discuss questions of indigenous citizenship and environmental citizenship based on my research and artistic project “Viidon Sieiddit – New scales of the Sámi nature relation,” funded by the Kone Foundation. I will analyze the contributions of the project from the point of view of indigenous and environmental citizenship.
4. What are your goals for the conference (personal and/or professional)?
ALD: My goal is to share my experiences to an interested audience, and to leave the conference inspired and intrigued by the discussions and presentations that I will be able to experience during these days.
SV: My main goal for the conference is learning from colleagues and different presentations and hopefully giving new insights to Sámi studies and especially to discussions about Sámi citizenship. It is also nice to meet people, share ideas and perhaps find and develop forms of collaboration.
UPDATE 25/09/19: We regret to inform you that Anna-Lill Drugge has had to cancel her keynote speech. In her place, Hilde Sollid and Torjer A. Olsen will present the following conversation: “Indigenizing education: Reflections on theories and concepts.”