The Idea

Hello. Over the next couple of months, more specifically from 1st of June to 27th of September, I will report here the process of writing a master from the first idea to the fieldwork in the high North to the finished document. Coming from an environmentalist background, I knew early on that my master had to entail how the oil industry is affecting the changing climate. With the recent questioning of opening the Arctic for oil drilling a thesis started forming. While doing this master a growing interest in the indigenous people has formed and their immediate connectedness to the nature seemed inevitable to not include. How the ones who have contributed the least to climate change now suffers the most deserves the attention of the academic community and society at large.

On Tuesday this week I went to London to meet with one of my supervisors, Ilan Kelman, with a few questions written down. (We came in contact over a module where I did research on Arctic indigenous and he represented an organization called ‘Many Strong Voices’ that works with how the indigenous people of the Arctic and small island developing states share many of the same vulnerabilities but also strengths. Many Strong Voices builds bridges between people who would normally not have met, so they stand stronger together in the UN’s climate negotiations) What I would like to seek the answers of is: 

– How the opening of oil drilling in the Arctic will affect the indigenous people living there?

– What type of resilience do they posses when dealing with an oil leakage?

– Can any of their indigenous knowledge be applied towards how to strengthen their resilience?

– How the indigenous would become climate refugees if their land and water became impossible to live by

– On the different forms of disaster reductions that can reduce an oil leakage in the Arctic

After telling Ilan that I intend to do field research he concluded that this is more realistic on a student friendly budget when it is done within the limits of Norway. The other factor for limitations when it came to why not studying the indigenous of Denmark with Greenland or Canada, we discussed their oil politics in the Arctic, and concluded that Norway as an oil nation is more interesting, and also Norway has not yet physically started drilling for oil in the South-East Barents Sea, which is the controversial area that was recently opened up after a hasty concession round in november 2013. We had then limited it down to involve the indigenous people of Norway, the Sami, but as I wanted to study the ones who will be most affected by a possible oil spill I chose the Coastal Sami. There is little research done on this, which makes it all the more exciting. 

Then and there after merely 10 minutes a master thesis was formulated – ‘Consequences for the Coastal Sami of an Arctic oil spill.’

But I had more questions;

– Can I include how the ocean and underwater ecosystems will be affected? – Yes.

– Can I use the deep ecology movement as formulated by Arne Næss as a theoretical basis? – If the university agrees then yes.

As this got to be a very enthusiastic conversation Ilan reminded me of something crucial – that while writing this masters I am purely an objective scientist with no predisposition towards either the oil industry or the environment or the indigenous. The future of this work depends on this. So possible enthusiastic outburst over positive findings will therefor be articulated on this blog instead.  

What I can reveal so far on what is going to happen is the planning of the field work, a journey to the North this summer and hopefully a lot of unexpected findings and smaller revelations. I look very much forward to get started, but first I need to write my final exam for this university before the master can start on the 1st of June. I will update as often as I have interesting stories.

My aspirations for this masters is that it will draw new connections and put the future of the Coastal Samis on the agenda in Norway and that they will be an important part of the equation when Norway discusses the question whether we should take part in Arctic oil drilling.



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