This session explores the politics and performativity associated with impact assessments in contested landscapes. We focus on industrial and infrastructure developments on indigenous lands. Particular emphasis is placed on contrasting the situation in Sápmi – the customary lands of the Sami now located within the nation states of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia – with international experiences.

Despite recent advances in international norms on indigenous rights, it remains an unsettled question what indigenous self-determination and associated rights of communities and traditional land users concretely imply in the context of impact assessment. The notion of contested landscapes is drawn upon to conceptualize landscapes as constituted by multiple and competing rights claims, entitlements and uses, which are exercised through the everyday performance and relationships between people and places. Permit processes and impact assessments are often important loci of struggle in rights-based politics and the social performances that serve to question what the confirmation or denial of these rights means in practice.

The session welcomes papers with both theoretical and/or empirical focus, including inter-disciplinary work, addressing questions such as: How do permit processes for new developments silence the voices of indigenous peoples and extinguish their rights to govern their landscapes? What new strategies of resistance are emerging to address inequalities in how decisions are made regarding such developments? What implications do principles of indigenous self-determination have for impact assessment practice, e.g. as regards impact co-management? Presentations will be followed by a facilitated discussion addressing key insights from the presentations and contributions from other participants.

Abstract deadline 15 December 2016


Rasmus Kløcker Larsen (Stockholm Environment Institute), Kaisa Raitio (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Rebecca Lawrence (Department of Political Science, Stockholm University)

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