Ever since I started my PhD studies, I’ve wanted to spend some time abroad – and with regards to my research topics, Australia’s been on top of the list. I got in touch with Michael Adams and Lesley Head towards the end of last year, and as I learned more about the research environment at UOW and AUSCCER I became even more set on making my trip happen. I’m so excited to be here, and although it still feels a bit surreal that I actually made it, I’m already sure that this will be one of the best experiences of my PhD. I’m here until the end of October, hoping to learn from and be inspired by the fascinating research being done here and the friendly and interesting people doing it. Thanks to Lesley and Michael for inviting me and helping me find ways to make the most of my stay here, and to all of the AUSCCER people for welcoming me into the group, showing me around, and sharing their work!
I am doing my PhD in Political Science at Umeå University, Sweden, as part of a project called Indigenous rights and nature conservation. My research is focused on indigenous peoples’ role and participation in nature conservation policy and management, with a particular interest in protected areas on indigenous lands. My main area of study will be protected areas in the Swedish and Norwegian parts of Sápmi (the traditional lands of the Sámi people, stretching over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula), but as I started out I realized I didn’t know enough about the international framework for nature conservation and protected areas and so I decided to begin my analysis there. I have recently finished a paper on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, where I argue that the convention text presents a rather narrow space for political agency for indigenous people regarding the influence over and participation in the management of biological resources, and that the discursive construction of indigenous subject positions within the convention clearly includes (post-) colonial notions and power relations. I will go on to study other central agreements and international instruments in this area, e.g. the World Heritage Convention and the IUCN’s categories for protected areas, and that’s what I’ll be working on during my time here at AUSCCER.
I’m looking forward to many conversations with AUSCCER over the next couple of months. Come find me in the corridors or email me at elsa.reimerson [at] pol.umu.se – I’m always up for a coffee!