Participation in the 5th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences

Report from Jukka Nyyssönen, PhD student, The Department of History, University of Tromsø. Project 200400797-25

Financial support for participation in the 5th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS V)

The Centre for Sami studies strategy fund decided to give funding, which I seeked specifically for travel costs in order to participate in the 5th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS V), Connections: Local and Global Aspects of Arctic Social Systems. The congress took place University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA, in 19.-23.10.2004.

The funding was used for the mentioned purpose. Before application, two papers of mine were accepted to be presented in the congress. A paper “Sami identity politics in a globalized era – Choice of identities” was given in a session “Globalization and self-determination: Assessing Challenge and Change in Arctic”, led by Gabrielle Slowey from University of Toronto, Canada. The other paper, “Sustainability of forestry and reindeer herding in Northern Finland – an institutional analysis” was given at the session Building Sustainable Worlds: “Native and Non-Native Perspectives on the management of Natural Resources in the Arctic”, led by Frank Sowa from Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen, Nürnberg, Germany.

When it comes to the results of my trip to Alaska, one can say that the funding from the centre was not totally wasted. As always in the congresses, one receives actually very little feedback on ones` presentations. I received some comments, mostly encouraging. The most substantial contribution from the events are the contacts made. Especially the globalization-session was well attended and from the discussions came up an idea for publication, not from the session though, but with docent Maria Lähteenmäki, University of Helsinki. The report is on print (January 2005), where I present an article on Sami identity politics and the Finnish discourses in the 1940s and 1950s. The article is based on the doctoral dissertation I am currently writing, so the funding did have positive effects to my research work as well.

As said, neither of the sessions I participated, did result to a publication. This was due to the great variety of the presentations, which the leaders had accepted. There were quite a few papers from people outside the scientific world, leading to all too wide coverage of issues and angles. Also the paradigmic differences between the Americas and Europe became evident during the congress – there are differences in use of theories as well as thoughts around applicability of research. The heavy concentration on research on the traditional knowledge has quite practical and positive angle to it: The domiciles of the threatened indigenous people can be saved. The intrinsic value to the issue and to the knowledge was there, but the practical side of the matters seems to be overwhelming in scientific thinking.

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