Archive for May, 2021

Bridging theory and practice

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

One of the main points of conducting research is improving the quality of ‘something’ or finding the answer to ‘something’. It also seems to be reasonable that the aim goes further than writing a paper, book, dissertation etc. with some magnificent conclusions. However, there are many areas of our lives about which magnificent words have been written, but for some reasons are perfect only for a paper, basically, because they are not used in reality. This is why I believe that it is important to look a bit at bridging theory and practice, which would prevent losing endless hours spent on the fieldwork and writing somewhere in between.

An example on which this blog is based is Edward Said and his thoughts and beliefs about which he was writing extensively in the book ‘Orientalism’.  In the book, the author argues that the Western world has created a vision of non-Western areas as hard to define Orient. He argues that the vision of the Orient is full of mixed aspects of various countries and cultures, which were full of stereotypes, assumptions and to some extend imagination of the speaker. Eventually, Said in ‘Orientalism’, aims to teach a reader that the West by its ‘adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” awareness’ (2). By formulating this perspective, he has started a new era of looking at the colonial and postcolonial world, but the question is if he managed to go further than academia. In the environment of scholars could be found those who are against his words and pro, but it is undeniable that he underlined a problem of overgeneralisation of the non-Western cultures.

Already mentioned aspects were all analysed in the book ‘Orientalism’, which was launched almost 40 years ago and seemed to revolutionise the way of thinking of many scholars, but then there is reality and forty years later in which songs like ‘Princess of China’ by Rihanna and Coldplay, Dark Horse by Katy Perry, Wild Dreams by Taylor Smith are launched and present exactly the same vision of ‘the created Orient’ about which Said was writing to be dangerous.

Apart from the music industry, there are many areas which up till these days recreate or still create the false picture of the ‘Orient’ (like the movie Coming to America from 1988 and its sequel from 2021) and they do not seem to have changed since the last century. These are the only couple of examples of how apart from the great importance in academia knowledge is not used in the daily lives of people. However, this issue is not only connected with this particular area but can be found in various disciplines. This is why crucial is to think through how the written word may be transferred to the world of mass media and those who are not interested in reading academic journals.

Kasia Kiryluk

Same rights in the midst of cobalt hunt in Sweden

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

During the past few months there have been several news reporting of the considerable value to be found in minerals and mines in Sweden. In particular with regards to cobalt, a mineral used in the production of batteries, and thus one for which demand is deemed to increase considerably taking into consideration the changes related to environmental policies and environmental friendly-technology.

Several mining companies have now received the necessary governmental authorizations in order to explore the possibilities to commercially mine cobalt. And it is most certainly so that from actually finding a place where mining activities could take place to actually putting in place a mine, several legal procedures (difficult and often cumbersome ones) are required. In this process, the Swedish government has a key role. A decision to exploit minerals in Sweden may be appealed to the Department of Commerce, in the end it is the government that decides where a mine is to be placed. In March this year, the Swedish Government initiated a governmental inquiry concerning ways that may make this process much faster (Kommitédirektiv 2021:16).

While mining becomes a key factor in the development and flourishing of environmental friendly technologies, and thus a priority for the modern society, it is important to remember that a mine considerably influences the area in which it is placed as well as the inhabitants. Very often the areas chosen by mining companies are those found in the North of Sweden, mostly on the basis of the scarse population and the vast unhabited areas. In such areas, there are not so many other actors opposing such a development and there are less factors to consider in the legal procedures. This also means that these activities have historically (and most probably also in the future) placed in Sápmi land.

This means that once more the Sami communities will have to fight against a prioritized commercial activity, namely environmental-friendly technologies. What they have to juxtapose to what seems to be a global priority, is their reindeer herding, something that seems exotic and very old-fashioned. In the existing lengthy legal procedure required in order for a new mine to be established same communities are given an opportunity to react and protect their lands and rights. It is difficult to be certain, but one could worry that in a faster, simplified procedure oppositions will not be paid so much attention and will not be able to influence the process.

It seems in the process of this report as a result of the governmental inquiry, Sami rights are not represented and thus one could without a doubt worry that the new procedure (if now a new one is the result of this process) will be a formalized way of circumventing Sami rights to the benefit of what is perceived as modern society imperative, the boosting of environmental technology. This seems like a step backwards for Swedish legislation.

Frantzeska Papadopoulou