Comparative Arctic Indigenous Governance
Objectives and Content
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Canada have much in common. All are highly developed liberal democracies. All include sparsely populated, resource-rich, Northern ¿frontiers.¿ And all are settler-colonial, comprising indigenous peoples absorbed by the state without consent.
Yet these states also differ. Canada is federal; the Nordic states are unitary. In the Nordic states, settlers and indigenous peoples are highly intermixed; in Canada many indigenous populations remain separate. And while Canada has seen intense judicial conflict concerning individual and indigenous rights, such legal battles have been less prominent in Nordic states.
For all of these reasons, the Nordic states and Canada provide fertile territory to explore the rapidly evolving field of indigenous governance.
This course aims to undertake that exploration using a comparative approach. Particular focus will be placed on the opportunities and challenges facing indigenous governance in unitary versus federal states; the challenges of indigenous autonomy where settler and indigenous populations are mixed; and the conflicts arising between indigenous and individual rights.
This course consists of twelve sections. Section One introduces the indigenous peoples of the Nordic states and Canada. Sections Two and Three explore theories and praxis of liberalism, multinational governance and settler-colonialism. Section Four to Six adress Sami territorial and /or political autonomy in Norway (and Sweden and Finland). Section Seven to Nine examine First Nations, Inuit and Metis territorial and/or political autonomy in Canada. Section Ten explores shared rule involving indigenous polities and regional and/or central settler-state governments. Section Eleven explores indigenous political action on an international level. Finally, Section Twelve seeks to synthesize the preceding section emphasizing the most important differences between Canada and Norway (and Sweden and Finland).
Upon completion of the course the student should be able to:
- define and understand the indigenous field and the core debates within the field
- demonstrate extensive knowledge about different indigenous peoples of the North and the main reasons for the different position and governance structure in the Nordic Countries and in the countries further west
- explain the different perspectives of indigenous peoples both within and across such groups
- explain and understand the different space open to indigenous peoples in federal vs. unitary states
- identify, analyze and reflect upon arguments and positions put forward in contemporary debates on the status and position of indigenous people
- assess claims made by researchers, indigenous groups, politicians and governmental bodies
- demonstrate knowledge about strengths and weaknesses of theories and positions and why these theories and positions exists in the first place
- critically relate concepts and perspectives on Arctic indigenous governance to new situations and developments, and being able to engage in debates with others on implications, solutions and recommendations.
- understand the importance of the core character of a political systems for the space open for indigenous groups
Required Previous Knowledge
Access to the Course
Open for all students at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Forms of Assessment
One 10 hour take home exam
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale; grade F is a fail.
Assessment in teaching semester
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.