Doing is learning: analysis of an unsuccessful attempt to adapt TEK/IK methodology to Norwegian Sami circumstances

Gro B. Ween, Jan Age Riseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes a case where an attempt was made to introduce TEK/IK into a conflict between Sámi reindeer owners and environmental institutions. The conflict was brought on by the establishment of a national park in Southern Sámi areas in Norway. At first, the Sámi were in favour of the park, but later on their attitudes changed as the content of planned national park developed. The reindeer owners discovered that the size of the park would be reduced, leaving out what they thought were significant areas in need of protection. They saw the encouragement of increased tourism activities as a threat to reindeer herding and felt alienated by the number of representatives they received in the park management structures. On the basis of these observations reindeer owners protested, but were ignored. As researchers well-established in the Southern Sámi area, we were brought into conversations regarding the park as the local reindeer owners searched for ways of bringing new arguments into the process. At this point we thought TEK/IK represented an opportunity to add weight to Sámi perspectives. As the title of this article indicates, as push came to shove we did not succeed in making room for local participation in our TEK/IK project, despite these existing on-going relations. The article attempts to understand what happened. Our analysis is based upon a perception of TEK/IK as not one, but at least two co-constituted knowledge practices. The premise is that research failures are as important to publish as successes. Our joint ethnographic experience has methodological implications for future TEK/IK research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-242
Number of pages15
JournalActa Borealia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2011


  • local knowledge
  • methodology
  • symmetrical approaches


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