Decolonizing Research at Avanersuaq: Local knowledge and Inughuit Partnership - Mari Kleist

Part of:
4:45 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Avanersuaq (Thule area, Smith Sound) in Greenland is among the most extraordinary places located alongside the largest polynya in the Arctic. The region has been occupied by pre-Inuit and Inuit for thousands of years and is currently home to Inughuit, whose ancestors subsisted in this region for many centuries. Today, the region is under increasing threat from the impacts of climate change including landslides and coastal erosion, which are negatively impacting the preservation of archaeological sites as well as Inughuit livelihoods. These changes have also affected the availability and abundance of local animal resources, which the communities in Avanersuaq largely depend on for food. To mitigate the impacts of climate change, the Government of Greenland has imposed hunting regulations largely based on the advice of western scientists and research. Inughuit, however, are experts and specialists in various aspects of their homeland, including the local ecology. As local knowledge holders they not only enrich our understanding of the past, but their insight can strengthen current mitigative and adaptive strategies to the changing environment. In this paper we present the framework of our current research project undertaken in partnership with Inughuit, highlighting how this partnership has generated interesting research directions and questions in regards to Inughuit livelihood and heritage. We will present the importance of partnering with local communities and the need of rethinking academic research practices.