Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

Who’s in Charge? Indigenous Global Politics and Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy

Wednesday, February 14, 2018  Time: 12:00-1:00 pm
Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 554 

Leah Sarson

 

Leah Sarson

​Post Doctoral Fellow, 2017-2019
Dartmouth College

 

Abstract

This research explores the contested relationship between state and Indigenous substate governments, with a specific focus on the global mining industry. Employing a database of the international connections of Indigenous communities in Canada compiled through interviews, content analysis, and participant observation, these community profiles reveal how Indigenous governments strategically engage with the resource extraction sector to realize their political objectives. Moreover, they demonstrate how Indigenous governments can challenge the state’s ability to realize its international preferences, despite the state’s overwhelming relative power. In the Arctic, where climate change, new technologies, and increased global demand are encouraging mining companies to explore resource deposits previously considered inaccessible or undesirable, overlapping levels of government are already jockeying for control on the global stage. This research bridges the literature on paradiplomacy (substate international relations), multilevel governance, and Indigenous politics, highlighting the transformative political effects of Indigenous global politics in a previously unexplored framework. By refuting assumptions about the hierarchical relationship between substate actors and the state, this work demonstrates how the international activities of Indigenous governments produce a feedback loop that both strengthens claims to autonomy while also impugning state authority and yielding further opportunities for international engagement. 

Biography

Leah Sarson is a 2017–19 SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is a fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding, a visiting Arctic fellow at the Institute of Arctic Studies, and a former Fulbright researcher. She is based at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Canadian foreign policy and is a visiting fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History and a senior fellow at the Canadian International Council. She is also co-founder and president of the Toronto chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS)-Canada and an elected member of the WIIS-Canada board of directors. Dr. Sarson’s current research explores Indigenous global politics in the extractive resource sector, while her broader research interests focus on Canadian foreign policy, International Relations, gender, and the Arctic. She completed her PhD in Political Studies in December 2016 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she is also a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy.