Posts Tagged ‘Prince George’

Eighth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS)

University of Northern British Columbia

ICASS 8 –Prince George, British Columbia, 20-26 May 2014


5/24: So. Here we are, attending a panel titled Arctic Extractive Industries: The Politics of Challenges and Opportunities, now just beginning, and chaired by Jessica Shadian (U Lapland), Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv (U Tromsø), and Peter Evans (EverNorth Consulting).

Up first, we have Brigt Dale (Norland Research Institute), presenting analytical concepts for understanding and interpreting consequences of Arctic Mining. Dale Interesting coverage of the literature and the dichotomy of human utilization and unspoiled nature in resource development. But Brigt has a way of always touching the correct analytical bases, and we will be following his work for sometime.

By the way, we want to pass a note of congratulations to both him and Grete Hovelsrud, the latter, project leader of a newly awarded (and highly coveted) Petrosams grant, from Norwegian Council Norway. Congratulations!

Well. It is lunchtime. Yay!

friends Well, by now you know everyone around the table, but let’s now go to the main plenary session, the after lunch meeting of the tribe, titled, From Staples to Sustainability: Can Extractive Resource Development Lead to Sustainability in the Arctic?

Is it possible to increase revenues to northern communities from resource development? That is the question that Chris Southcott (Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA), main plenary speaker poses to the plenary audience. Well, that is an important question. Now, Chris hands over the microphone to the first speaker on the panel, Andrey Petrov (USA & IASSA Council Member), who is another panel co-chair, introducing the panelists. Lee Husky, Professor U Alaska, Pavel Sulyandziga (Chairman, International Indigenous Peoples of Russia), Gunn-Britt Rette (Arctic and Environmental Unit, Saami Council), Alona Yefimenko (Technical Advisor, Indigenous Peoples Secretarial Arctic Council).

plenaryLee Husky is up first: Taking a page out of a Hollywood movie, Husky’s answer to the problem of sustainability in the north is “Eat, Pray, Love”. It is a curious plan and rather reminds us of that famous cautionary quote by Desmond Tutu, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray’. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

What a wonderful talk by Saami representative Gunn-Britt, and Alona, both pointing out industry extraction is by no means inevitable, and that the long term consequences of industrial land use is a challenge to communities who remain on the land long after industry has taken out its profits.speakers
Ok. Where are we? Ah. It is time for some International Relations and Law, a panel titled Rethinking the Borders of the North, and chaired by Monica Tennberg (U Lapland) and Maria Läteenmäki (U Eastern Finland).

5/22: Day TWO.

So. Here we are, in the main plenary hall discussing many aspects of the Arctic, listening to E. Carina Keskitalo referring to its discourse and organization, referring now to “multiple Arctics” and, yes, therefore, “multiple futures” – well that makes sense.

Multiple modernities, multiple nostalgias, numerous techno-economic rationalities — good grief — just a plain multiplicity of Arctricities.

And, we should remember that most of these Arctricities are historically constructed. Well. That makes sense since the present reflects the accumulated construction of the past, unless, of course, it reflects the insertion of the future into the present.

Here we are right now! In the Plenary room!

Now Peter Skold talking about Stakeholders. A discussion about the development of a new and more complex relationship of a stakeholder collaborative. The stakeholder relationship has changed. There requires to be more research at the local level. And who speaks for the local.

Okay. Now up, Peter Schweitzer, University of Vienna, proving a well deserved congratulations to the speakers on a job well done.  Consciousness and confidence of historical construction and discourse about the multiplicity of arctics — as discussed in the present (but not necessarily in the past, so, in fact, deconstructing the empirical). Giving agency to ecosystems and natural resources, following Peter Skold’s issues.

downunderWell, well. A very interesting question from a member of the audience, a lawyer from China asks the panel, why not refer to non-Arctic Coastal States, and not simply non-Arctic stakeholders, implying that the Arctic Ocean is an international seascape and therefore, available to all stakeholders.

Moreover, he, whose name I did not catch, asks the panel to provide what forms of governance should be available to this international space.

Conference Papers: Recollections and Silences around the Soviet Nuclear Testing in Novaya Zemlya, Karina Lukin, as presented by Stephan Dudek. A panel on recollections led by Florian Stammler, with Julie Cruikshank as discussant.

meal45/21: Day ONE.

First up, we have an APECS meeting all day!

APECS stands for Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, originally founded by Jen Baeseman, and other early career folks, back during International Polar Year (IPY), in 2008.

In this first session we have Drs. Anna Kerttula de Eschave, Program Officer, US National Science Foundation, and Kathrin Keil, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, talking about the interface with policy makers.

univKathrin states that policy-makers are on a limited time frame, and require complex issues simplified in the format that can make decision making possible. This includes, demonstrating cutting edge research results and its relevance to policy, highlighting neglected aspects of a certain problem, highlight misconstrued issues in the mainstream media, identifying significant gaps, etc. Direct interaction (interviews, key networking events, workshops that you organize) and indirect interaction (news articles, blog posts, fact sheets).

Well in fact, we had a chance to catch up with both Drs. Kerttula (left) and Keil (right) this morning, for breakfast, looking smart and ready for work!Anna and Katrin There is always room for a little break as well, as depicted in fact, by this diptych below right, with University of Vienna Postdoctor, Gertrud Eilmsteiner-Saxinger (right) and PhD graduate student Susanna Gartler (left), looking happy and confident, as they should, given their projects on mobility and work in the Arctic, and a study of epistemological foundations of subsistence, respectively.gerti1gerti2


Well, up now we have Anna Kerttula de Eschave, also talking about policy. Anna is a legacy child of Alaska politics, her father serving 36 years in the state legislature, and her sister, 16 years in the legislature, as elected officials. Anna herself held prominent roles in Washington DC, prior to NSF, working for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, and later, as Associate Director for the Office of the Alaska Governor.

“Know your audience!”

An insightful reminder about tax-based science, requiring thoughtful outreach to different aspects of society to communicate your findings. Who is in the room, where are they from. “There is no policy cycle, it is an iterative process, working across parties, including experts.” Great line.

You need to show how your science is important to policy. Citing her father, if you can choose your politician with a personal interest in your topic, you can engage them. Public opinion matters. Actually, there is an excellent article by Sheila Jasanof (2012), who suggests since mid-century, publics underwriting research with substantial tax revenues “acquired a stake in what science produces, just as science acquired stakes in making its findings useful as a basis for continued public support” (p. 132 Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change, editor, Richard Norgaard).opinionAnd Anna points this out – stating that that democratization efforts have filtered into the processes of scientific discovery,  shoring up legitimacy of public funding for science—by seeking citizen acquiescence to research that purports to guarantee eventual widespread societal applications.

Data visualization websites for the Arctic: Patchwork Barents is a particularly spectacular example. Another great feature – accurate information for the public, made available to the public, getting info out in real-time, is the NASA site: Earth Right Now: Your planet is changing. We’re on it.. discussants

So, get training in web based-media and get your science out there (check out the videos, “Science, it’s a girl thing”, both the European Union and the Dartmouth University response).

Great final discussion on the interface of policy and science, and what the discussants point out, that the presentation mirrors a lobbying 101 format. Joining Anna and Kathrin is Dr. Roberto Delgado, Science and Technology Policy Fellow for National Science Foundation, seated in the middle.

Well, here is a better, one might say, dashing photograph of Roberto, who, we should add, holds a unique position at the Arctic Social Sciences Program, NSF, working under the mentorship of Anna Kerttula (great idea, wish we could apply! [and here’s the link!]) in the capacity of science-policy interface.sandt
Phew. Great session.
Not even the first day.
But what do we have here?

Ah yes, the Plenary session and of course, Food (!) which brings to mind, that famous saying earlier in the day, “Know your audience!”

meal3crowdplenarypolarcommissionJumping ahead of ourselves for a moment, who would have thought that in the taxi back to the hotel filled with the entire delegation of the Canadian Polar Commission, that the important group would be so well represented.

David Miller, National Coordinator (far left), Marc Meloche, Senior Policy Advisor (middle), and Nadav Goelman, Policy Analyst (right), have just completed a Northern review which they plan to share with us all in the coming days.

We learned quite a bit about David’s extensive experience working as a journalist in Yellowknife for the better part of a quarter century, first studying to be an architect and designer at U Calgary.

Back at the opening reception, we were able to catch up with some old and new friends and to hear from absolutely new participants to the Arctic. Well, we know Svetlana Usenyuk, working now as a post doctor in Finland, soon to be submitting a proposal for the European Research Council’s Horizon 2020 Marie Curie to work in the United Kingdom, and we wish her all the best, and of course, confident of a positive outcome.

But there are a few regulars from Alaska and non-Alaska arctic programs, including professor Philip Steinberg (right) and Diane Hirshberg (left) from University of Alaska Anchorage, who by the way, carries the UC Berkeley mantle in Arctic as the Alaska Chair of the Cal Alumni Association (Go Bears!).
Well. Now, before we continue on to mention the other notables in the room, we must pause for a moment to remark that one of the more wonderfully curious keynote presentations at this arctic social science event was given by Chinsoo Lim, PhD, Vice President of the Korea Maritime Institute. korea

What a welcomed presence!

It is rare that the social sciences and in particular, the Arctic social sciences is addressed by a such a respectable member of industry, commercial vessel construction and the like, and by the looks of the crowd, Dr. Lim seemed to have an especially distinctive affect on everyone in the room, likely because of his polite and rather polished demeanor.

We simply could not help ourselves and had to catch up one-on-one with the good doctor who let us know, in fact, that his company has been covering all the Arctic bases these past few years, running the gauntlet so to speak, making themselves heard about the new opportunities, er, that is, shared opportunities for all, as the Arctic becomes constructed as a accessible and valuable seascape.
korea2Who else?

Ah, there they are, Kathrine Keil (left) and Daria Shapovalova (right).

keillarsWell, of course we know Kathrine from long times past, her status as Arctic policy studies aficionado is well deserved.

But then Daria is new, starting her PhD program in Law at University of Aberdeen, and having worked previously for the prestigious Norwegian Concern (again on arctic shipping) Det Norske Veritas (DNV), and perhaps hoping to return upon completion.

Actually, we here  at Paparazzi-Ethnography have spent an earlier occasion with at their Høvik DNV Headquarters, presenting out own ideas and agree wholeheartedly, that the company is indeed a major player in the future world of Arctic developments.

Ah. Now there is an ICASS notable, Chair, Key Note Speaker, U Arctic leader, Lars Kullerud, selecting a lanyard from a bag of chords collected at various universities.

We imagine that everyone is likely able to locate his own home town.

Well of course, how could we round out the evening without mentioning the spectacular services of Chef Rodney Mansbridge (right) and his Assistant James Begg (left). The offerings were just what so many of us required after such long journeys from several continents.
chefWell, in fact, a modest attempt to acknowledge the entire assembly deserves some opportunity, led capably by Willie Lum, Operations Manager for Eurest, in their efforts to provide what all conferences require, in fact, yes, demand, the golden touch of service.

Hurrah! to the folks of Eurest and may we all be polite guests to them over the duration of our conference stay here in Northern British Columbia.

Traveling to the Eighth International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS)


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