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Step lightly, then move forward: exploring feminist directions for northern research

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Abstract:

I discuss the methodological challenges that research with Aboriginal women poses in historical geography, especially in Northern Canada. Drawing a parallel between historical geography and contemporary Northern studies, I explore how the predominance of climate change as a framework for funding Arctic research creates an environment where women's specific ways of knowing and connecting with the land are not adequately captured. A gender approach that is sensitive to the issues women face in their communities reveals that their experience of climate change, as well as the concerns they have about it, are inseparable from the other economic and social issues they face. I argue for the development of a feminist research agenda in the North that allows Aboriginal partners to locate themselves in the frameworks that are constructed for producing knowledge. At times letting the project ‘fail’ may be the surest way to enable the emergence of a locally-driven agenda that addresses the present and future needs of Northern Aboriginal Peoples.

Keywords: Femmes; Northern research; changement climatique; climate change; connaissances locales; feminist methodology; géographie historique; historical geography; local knowledge; méthodologie féministe; women; études nordiques

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0064.2010.00320.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Université Laval, Québec, Canada G1V 0A9 ( ), Email: caroline.desbiens@ulaval.ca

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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