Indigenous perspectives on forest fires, drought and climate change: Sápmi

The overall aim of this inter- and supradisciplinary research project is to analyse, document and bring forward Indigenous/Sámi stewardship of lands with regard to fire management, drought and other aspects of climate change, using a combination of filmed interviews, drones images, 3D maps, photographs, video clips, sounds, writing and workshops, as means of research, communication and dissemination.

Led by artist scholar Dr Ignacio Acosta with Sámi journalist Ms Liz-Marie Nilsen, Sámi scholar Dr May-Briitt Öhman, Sámi reindeer herder and Luleå Sámi translator Ms Gun Aira, Sámi and local communities. Placed at Uppsala University, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR), in collaboration with Ájtte Museum Jokkmokk; Arts Catalyst, University of Brighton; Hasselblad Foundation; HDK-Valand, Gothenburg University; and Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen.

We ask
What Indigenous/Sámi knowledges are available in regards to wildfires, heat, drought and other impacts from climate change/extreme weather events?

How can Artistic research/Visual documentation with a critical approach developed collaboratively can be used to document, analyse, discuss and provide a basis for promoting indigenous knowledges to the nation state and climate change debate?

Understanding Indigenous land stewardship forms the major focus of this project along with highlighting the negative impacts of Nation state disrupting traditional Indigenous ways of managing the land, where burning is one important aspect. Whyte (2017b) claims that many Indigenous Peoples' calendars and seasonal rounds explicitly demonstrate how Indigenous Peoples, through practices such as burning and fishing, managed and maintained certain ecosystems. In the project, we rely on and address the knowledge and expertise of Sámi people. Hence, a major focus of this research project are the left outs of indigenous people from the settler colonial nation discussions, debates and actions; Öhman (2007) refers to it as invisibilisation, which we wish to challenge.

This research project is based within the growing field of Indigenous Land Based Education and Knowledge (Wildcat et al). It is run by an experienced artist and scholar in collaboration with Indigenous Sámi communities and Indigenous - Sámi academic scholar. The project brings together the disciplines of Artistic research / Visual documentation with History of technology and science, and Feminist Technoscience / Gender research and Indigenous methodologies / Sámi knowledges. The project furthermore includes non-Indigenous academic scholars and environmental activists and invites non-Indigenous representatives within settler colonial states to co-produce knowledge and develop an important understanding for much needed change regarding climate change mitigation and heat/drought and fire management. Long-term and ethical art/documentary strategies can offer new ways of reexamining global ecology through local and Indigenous knowledge.

Project Leader: Ignacio Acosta
Project coordinator: Liz-Marie Nilsen 
Post-doctoral supervisor: May-Britt Öhman

Last modified: 2022-12-02