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Resumé af Vivi Volds speciale

Specialetitel: Illumination of opportunities and challenges at the crossroads between research on Greenland and Greenlandic society - reflection and analysis of the visual material From where we view the world.

Purpose description

One of the biggest challenges in science in Greenland and the Greenlandic society is the gap between the scientist like a biologist, and hunters from local society.

This research aims to understand what the gap actually means, and how Indigenous knowledge is positioned in classic science.

To do so I used Visual anthropology and made a movie to show the problem and challenges in science. The scenes are shot while the first ever Greenland Science Week in 2019 occurred. Associated with this, the reflectionpaper was part of the thesis, with theories of Indigenous knowledge and written words of decolonizing methods of knowledge.

And this was to better understand the perspective of how the gap could be shown in visuals and then explained with especially Linda Tuhiwai Smiths theory and method using decolonizing insights and history research.

This resulted in a movie showing how science is collaborated here in Greenland, and shows this in a locals eyes view is experienced. And interviews with local hunter experts, artists and fishermen – doing an oral experience on how they see and experience knowledge and how they experience scientists in this field.

The conclusion of this thesis is, the gap between these two worlds is a lack of acknowledging the Indigenous Knowledge in Greenland. How western and eurocentric knowledge is valued higher and has a higher status in science general here in Greenland.

Reflection paper setup

The outline is built after considering my creative way of embracing the visual material. It's created through a great intuitive process where I did not really know what was what and why, but it made all sense at the end.

The thesis title itself is called: “Illumination of opportunities and challenges at the crossroads between research on Greenland and Greenlandic society”.

A challenge as a Native student and with a desire to be able to do research in the future, is to see that other researchers who come to Greenland do not have the same insights and understanding of Greenlandic culture.

A challenge which means that I have met several who had difficulty seeing what one can see from here in relation to cultural differences in research. In addition, I see potential in the way Indigenous Knowledge can contribute to the Inuit culture and proceed from our own culture.

At the beginning of this thesis journey, I wrote down a lot as written on a major post it’s. Below is an apt conclusion of the film as well as the reflections that had come through before I started on the production of the film.

Where I divided it into a combination of Local knowledge, and then Scientific knowledge. In short, I wrote what I could already see, how things could be divided and what tendencies or characteristics both forms of knowledge had - but also what I see that so far energy has been spent on. This is the beginning of my thesis.

When I read the sources I have referred to - a lot of theory and text has been used to convince in contemporary science that Indigenous Knowledge exists and it has been described in fragments on an academic level.


The challenge lies in not acknowledging to a high enough level that it is in fact a whole system of knowledge in itself, and thus also completely different methods and ways of knowing and doing things. All the structure and methods are different from contemporary science - and even the way one tries to incorporate in the present. It can also be seen in the film that the way in which local and indigenous people are involved is by putting them in the contemporary Eurocentric scientific framework.

It is on stage in a cultural center that you present - it is with posters and post that you put up results of your 'knowledge' in a cultural center. And it's up on stage with a powerpoint with certain words one has to present oneself as. Exactly the same as Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann points out in the movie - where she points out whether hunters only gain value when they are certain, when they are outgoing or can talk in a certain way - a way in which the tourism industry can both understand and relate to.

And it is the same with contemporary science here in Greenland - that the hunters knowledge only has value when and if they do it on certain terms and structures.

These are Eurocentric frameworks, they are an epistemology that reflects the consequences that Imperialism has had and a concrete proof that, to this day, there is still no balance of power. By balance of power, I mean that Indigenous Knowledge as well as contemporary science are equally important and equally valuable.

If that balance of power existed, it would not be solely on the terms required by contemporary research - ie. one would be able to open up to the methods and ways of Indigenous Knowledge. Ceremonies, narratives or more methods could easily be found for the presentation of knowledge and the formation of new knowledge without having to be exposed through the Eurocentric contemporary scientific framework.

And this is exactly what I, as a student, have tried to do with my thesis. Not only write about the subject - but actually also challenge both myself and the contemporary science here in Greenland, in a way that allows and combines several competencies.

Both through the visual and the intuitive - with a combination of gaining knowledge and relying on a direction that can not be seen or proven until it is done. Here, in concrete terms, the way I have allowed myself to design my visual material, first and foremost by trusting that the direction I am going in terms of the thesis, that it is a direction that is important, both myself as a person, and the Greenlandic community. Here's what my Anaana showed me through her being. How she through her being showed me silence, and through her stories and tales, funny and serious - everything in between. She showed me pictures and sounds that she allowed to flow through one - because by her power, she never had the need to prove anything - and was just in what is so natural for her - to be in silence and to use silence as well when she told, passed on knowledge beyond words.

Sound - The noise and the silence.

Right from the music during the movie - snow sparrow. To the way the noise begins to increase or the sound is completely removed - is one of the most important parts of the effects in the film.

Because it's about these values - silence versus noise. The essence versus the noise.

To be able to be in the silence and feel it and acknowledge it, as opposed to having to use words.

Now a large primary school for 1,200 children is being built here in Nuuk and that it is a lack of recognition of the value of silence.

It's about the depth of what happens, with the relationship between man and nature when you go out. And you can only feel and gain experience from it - thus also get your reflection stimulated, by creating a relationship with nature and the environment. Which then creates something deeper than just knowledge, but knowledge formation and co-creation of the local community you come from. And thus help to create opportunities and solutions - based on the traditions you have, and for example through Kipparsimaarneq understand, among other things, the values of respect, recognition and sustainability.

Because it's not just about words, it's not just about what you say and present.

It is about what you feel, because through it you gain new insight and experience the knowledge that not only remains information that Tim Ingold describes as beautifully as I mention in chapter 3 (Ingold 2002).

To tell without sound what happens between the organisms - what happens in addition to the interaction between people, who also share knowledge about something of the same with different perspectives, angles and relationships.

This means that in order to answer what I problematized in the introduction - then the challenge is the framework of the whole structure that one is trying to solve. Ie. contemporary science in itself helps to maintain the problematic, with the form it has now.

And to solve this, one has to go through one by one how contemporary science not only stretches, limits and undermines - but how it can create opportunities and open up more to recognize Indigenous Knowledge.

And that the most important step in bridging the gap between these knowledge systems is to recognize Indigenous Knowledge is a completely different system in itself, with completely different methods and competence requirements.

And the next step is then in my optics to find ways to open up so that contemporary science also benefits from and is enriched by Indigenous Knowledge with all its own methods and competence requirements as well as ways to systematize.

Remember to watch the whole movie with an open heart and a mind that is lifted from any perception, pre-learned knowledge and challenge your view - who are we viewing this from, and for whom.

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Senest opdateret 25. november 2021