The mobility supported the development of my post-doc research plans. My post-doc plans involved focusing on Arctic politics, which made the meetings during the mobility especially useful.
On June 10, I had a meeting with Associate Professor Frank Sejersen, at the Section of Eskimology and Arctic Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. He is part of the research network of the project “Critical Arctic Studies” (led by research professor Monica Tennberg, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland), which also involves my post-doc research. We submitted an application to the Academy of Finland last fall, however, we were not successful this time. Hence, it was particularly useful to meet Prof. Sejersen to discuss future plans regarding the project. We decided to proceed applying various funding agencies, and Prof. Sejersen will be more closely involved in the application process. He welcomed me to do part of my post-doc research at his office in Copenhagen. This was a concrete new opportunity which the mobility created for me.
We discussed Arctic research more broadly and ideas on what critical Arctic studies could mean. There are many similar themes and observations in our respective work. It was interesting to hear Prof. Sejersen’s insights on Greenlandic politics, for example on uranium mining. Other discussed topics included the challenges of doing research on indigenous issues and non-indigenous research and the situation of researchers in the universities in Finland, Denmark and Greenland. We also discussed the University of the Arctic and its activities as I acknowledged the mobility funding and opportunity to visit the University of Copenhagen.
On June 11, I met Alona Yefimenko at the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (Arctic Council). She currently acts as the executive secretary until fall 2014, and has a long experience in the organisation. It was inspiring to hear about her understanding and experiences of indigenous politics in the Arctic Council and in the Arctic states. Many topics were covered in our discussions, and we especially spoke about the current situation of indigenous people in Russia.
On June 12, I had a meeting with the Executive Director, Lola García-Alix, International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). I met her some years ago, while doing my research in the United Nations (UN), Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This was a good opportunity to meet her again, and to hear about the latest developments in the UN, concerning indigenous people. García-Alix is very experienced in indigenous politics and rights on the international level. We discussed the challenges and also achievements of indigenous people within the UN. We agreed that a more critical assessment of the UN and indigenous politics, both by researchers and politicians, indigenous or not, is needed. Her insights were valuable, in confirming the direction of my future research, as well as challenging alternative ways of looking at indigenous politics within the UN.
The mobility period was successful, I met new contacts, revived a prior one, and had inspiring discussions, learning about Arctic and indigenous politics from experts that have considerable insights and experience on these issues. My previous research did not have an Arctic focus, so this was a good learning experience for me. The mobility strengthened my critical perspective, as well as opened up new perspectives enabling a better understanding with attention to the complexities of Arctic developments and politics. I found the meetings very motivating and encouraging, in terms of developing my post-doc research project.