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Johan Sandberg McGuinne guest speaking in the workshop.

Working Group Place Wisdom

Report on the Place Wisdom Working Group’s Inter-Congress online workshop ‘Indigeneity in Europe: Issues and Perspectives’.

Over 40 participants representing diverse institutions, expertise and knowledges gathered at an international scoping workshop in July entitled 'Indigeneity in Europe: Issues and Perspectives' to share and develop understandings of indigeneity in the European context. The event was a collaboration between the Place Wisdom Working Group, the University of Highlands and Islands’ (UHI) Institute for Northern Studies and Learning for Sustainability Scotland.

The workshop, which was organized at Perth College UHI on 28 July 2022, included linked events taking place the evening before and the morning after. Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Indigenous knowledge and tradition bearer of the South Sámi in Sweden and a Scottish Gaelic translator, teacher, poet and academic, was invited to give a public keynote sharing Indigenous methodologies, including creative engagement with the living traditions of Place Wisdom. The lecture was hosted by Culture Perth & Kinross and took place in the Soutar Theatre of Perth’s A. K. Bell Library.

The event was aligned with a research program initiated by the Alliance for Intergenerational Resilience (AIR) and developed in collaboration with universities especially in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as interested individuals from Scotland and elsewhere. Drawing on ethnographically grounded, radical approaches to human ecology and creative ethnology, the research will generate novel interaction across boundaries – generational, disciplinary, sectoral, national/regional and geo-cultural.

The workshop was structured along four interconnected live-streamed sessions and was divided into the following themes: 1) Lands, peoples and languages, 2) Living from the land, 3) Spiritual knowledge and 4) Intercultural and intergenerational issues. Key questions included: What are the impacts of ‘development’, climate, ecological and cultural change on interrelated intergenerational resilience practices (IRP)? For example, what is the nature of the symbiosis between the loss of language and physical connection to place, and vice-versa?

The workshop closed poignantly with the first screening of The Dreaming Bog, an ecopoetic story about Climate Change told through the lens of the Bogs and Peatlands of Northern Scotland and the Mires and Swamps of Finland. The film is based on the opening act of an epic new poem by Caithness Makar George Gunn, ‘Six Thousand Years of Sunlight’, and was produced by Sutherland-born filmmaker, Robert Aitken.

The event was sponsored by the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF). We thank all the organizers, participants and SIEF for their valuable input and discussions.

Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti, Caít O’Neill McCullagh and Victoria Walters, Place Wisdom Working Group.