‘Curating matters of care in the Arctic: what does knowledge co-creation look like for policymaking’ – Professor Lise Autogena to present at workshop with The European Commission’s Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy

Courtesy of Lise Autogena I

Professor Lise Autogena will present at the Curating matters of care in the Arctic: what does knowledge co-creation look like for policymaking workshop organised by the Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy on 26 May 2023, at the JRC in Ispra, Italy.

Courtesy of Lise Autogena II

Autogena will also present her online archive work Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeld: the mountain that became the epicentre for a democratic discussion about Greenland’s future, which was commissioned by the Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy, European Commission, JRC 2022.

The online work displays an evolving narrative about a mountain that has become a focus and symbol for a democratic discussion about Greenland’s future. The Kuannarsuit/Kvanefjeld plateu in South Greenland is thought to contain the world’s second-largest deposit of rare-earth oxides, sixth-largest deposit of uranium and one of the largest multi-element deposits of its kind in the world. The artwork refract the different facets, local perceptions and decision-making around the plans for the mining of Kvanefjeld. Fragments of interviews, children’s toys, impacts from melting glaciers, radiation monitoring of polar bears, radioactive rocks, tweets from the US president and traditional knowledge create a swirling fractal narrative about the discussion about a mountain that has become the epicentre for a national discussion about Greenland’s future. is based on artistic ethnographic work carried out with the indigenous community at the Kuannersuit Plateau.

Curating matters of care in the Arctic: what does knowledge co-creation look like for policymaking – The European Commission’s Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy (JRC), Ispra, Italy

The JRC has been working on understanding current and future prospects of working across different ways of knowing, especially on matters and places where traditional knowledge has been key on humans and ecosystem survival and co-existence. The first report issued by the JRC looked at policy narratives in what concerns the inclusion of traditional knowledge (and in particular indigenous knowledge) in policymaking concerning the Arctic and in particular policies addressing the climate change issues. This was followed by a second publication focused on social research through in-depth interviews with different actors at the interface of science and traditional knowledge, including policymakers, scientists and Saami people or their representatives. On the April 2022, RTD and JRC organized an online workshop called “Knowledge Production in policy relevant Arctic research projects”. The objective of this workshop was to promote the dialogue among a diversity of actors that participate in EU funded Polar research in the Arctic region and investigate ways of improving the cooperation between indigenous populations of the Arctic and researchers. At this event we used story-telling as a departing point; the stories were centred in sharing the experiences of participants in working on traditional science/indigenous knowledge intersections and what they found challenging/rewarding throughout their professional experiences, as well as reflections on both practical and ethical aspects of their work experience. We have subsequently focused our conversations on work ethos, vocabulary, and implications of hybridisation of knowledge production systems. The final objective of the workshop was to explore effective ways of working across different knowledge production systems, with Traditional Knowledge and scientific knowledge as instances, in the context of a climate changing world and especially under the particular conditions that the Arctic ecosystem is facing. The short workshop left more questions than answers and a clear need for a space to continue these conversations and strive for more respectful conversations to happen.

Courtesy of Lise Autogena I

This second workshop will be a continuation of the former, inquiring further with the initial questions. It will focus on dilemmas (or multi-lemmas), on matters of care and on wisdoms. These three lenses will help the participants with looking closer at what the needs are across different communities to advance issues related to working across different knowledge production systems. It will involve in deeper ways the arts, and in particular the arts of Saami or arts related to the Arctic.

Why a focus on dilemmas: this focus allows deep consideration on the current (and already largely identified by many) problems of working across different systems of knowledge production and differently empowered knowledge-holders. Dilemmas (and not necessarily choice between two) are about the undesirable and the discomfort. The undesirable and discomforts make an opportunity for us to learn and to move forward. So, it is in this sense that we would like to focus on dilemmas. We will create a series of them, which will be departing points for our conversations.
Secondly, we will focus on matters of care. The scholar Puig De La Bellacasa (2011) proposed a move from Latour’s matters of concern to matters of care; this is because ‘matters of concern’ are neutral to the power dynamics that lead to certain things qualifying as concerns, hence requiring attention and care, while making other things invisible and neglected, along with (intentional and unintentional) silencing and exclusion of associated knowledges and practices. As Puig De La Bellacasa argues, care and caring emphasise the interdependencies of our world and lives. Those dependencies, we would argue cannot but be better addressed than through collective engagement in the issues we care about. Hence, by allowing a diverse set of actors to contribute to framings and taming specific issues, it might be possible to direct our attention to ‘matters of care’, i.e., those matters about which collectives and individuals are willing to do something about. Matters that require safe dedicated space to even become visible, let aside voiced, for which often there are no clear-cut options to choose from. So, in this workshop, we would like to emphasise care as a feature of the conversations we will be having, as this lens allows to introduce in very explicit ways the ‘coproduction’ and ‘relational’ in knowledge production. Thirdly, we would like also to work with wisdom(s) as this idea allow to explore our commitments. In this case, we are interested in the types of commitments necessary to ensure knowledge production ethos are based on extended notions of respect.

The workshop will also reflect on the meanings of these discussions for governance in the Arctic and in particular for EU research policy and EU funded research projects. It will also reflect on the need to set up a “community of practice” on these topics of interest. The workshop will bring together researchers (mostly from Arctic Passion H2020 project), Sami representatives and artists to address the conundrum of bringing together different ways of knowing to address pressing issues in the Arctic.

[Images courtesy of Professor Lise Autogena]

Picture of Professor Lise Autogena

Professor Lise Autogena

Lise Autogena is a Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Art and Head of the Art, Design and Media Research Centre (ADMRC).

Lise’s research explores societal impacts of cross-disciplinary and socially engaged arts-led research and has been exhibited and presented worldwide. In 2019-20 Autogena established Narsaq International Research Station (NIRS) in South Greenland. Autogena is currently developing an ocean observatory in Denmark in collaboration with the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Find out more about Lise’s research projects: Kuannersuit; KvanefjeldBlack Shoals; Dark MatterFoghorn Requiem and Most Blue Skies I + II.