Indigeneity, Science, and Difference

Law, John and Joks, Solveig (2019). Indigeneity, Science, and Difference. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 44(3) pp. 424–447.



This paper explores a colonial controversy: the imposition of state rules to limit salmon fishing in a Scandinavian subarctic river. These rules reflect biological fish population models intended to preserve salmon populations, but this river has also been fished for centuries by indigenous Sámi people who have their own different practices and knowledges of the river and salmon. In theory, the Norwegian state recognizes traditional ecological knowledge and includes this in its biological assessments, but in practice this does not happen, so Sámi fishing practices and the realities that they enact are disappearing. This paper explores how to conceptualize colonial differences in knowing. Drawing on recent anthropology, it asks how (scientific) “settler” and (Sámi) “nomadic” enact worlds and their realities, suggesting that, unlike the latter, the former create a single reality intolerant of alternatives. The focus is thus on a “politics of how” and the ways in which colonial realities and knowledges might intersect less destructively.

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