Workshop of Indigenous Law and Methodology

During the first week of July, JCLOS postdoctoral fellow Dr. Margherita Paolo Poto organized and led a workshop in Indigenous Law and Methodology. The project was hosted and funded by the prestigious Norwegian Centre for Advanced Study, and took place at the beautiful Holmen Fjordhotell in Oslo.

The workshop brought together a diverse group of ten leading and young researchers from around the world to explore and raise awareness of critical questions in Indigenous law and methodologies. The first three days were led by Val Napoleon and Rebecca Johnson, two professors with the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) at the University of Victoria, as they taught the ILRU-developed methodology to revitalize and revisibilize Indigenous legal orders. This methodology starts from the premise that Indigenous people were and are rational beings who are governed by rational laws. However, years of State-organized discriminatory and assimilationist policies have degraded these legal orders. Now is the time to begin the hard work to rebuild Indigenous legal orders.

The last two days saw the other eight workshop participants present on their current or past research projects related to Indigenous peoples and law. The presentations were diverse and fascinating, stretching several disciplines and continents. Topics presented included:

  • Arctic Governance for Environmental and Indigenous Protection (Margherita Paolo Poto); 
  • Bridging European Food Governance and Indigenous Food Security (Lara Fornabaio); 
  • Empowering Indigenous through Public Procurement (Carol Cravero);
  • Women in the Arctic (Tahnee Prior); 
  • Indigenous Consultation in Mining Projects in Canada (Logan Turner);
  • Customary Laws: An Alternative Justice System for Kenya (Jane Murungi);
  • ‘Terras tradicionalmente ocupadas’ in the Age of Forced Displacement (Arianna Porrone); and
  • Shubu Hiwea – Living School of the Huni Kuin People from Jordão River in Brazil (Giulia Parola).

At the end of the conference, each participant walked away with a broader vision of the complexity of Indigenous societies and laws.

 The Workshop of Indigenous Law and Methodology received funding as a YoungCAS Project from the prestigious Centre for Advanced Study (CAS). CAS is Norway’s only institute for excellence in interdisciplinary fundamental research. CAS’ primary objective is to strengthen fundamental research by providing outstanding scholars the opportunity to collaborate on projects across disciplinary and national boundaries. This is only the second year that CAS is providing funding for YoungCAS projects.


Significant gratitude is owed to the active participation of outgoing CAS Scientific Director, Prof. Vigdis Broch-Due, and to the precious help and technical assistance of CAS Administrative Staff Carl Fredrik Straumsheim and Camilla Kottum Elmar. The success of the Workshop was largely thanks to their support and contributions.


Dr. Margherita Paolo Poto, the project team leader, is a postdoctoral researcher at the JCLOS and is currently involved in her second year of research on Arctic Governance and the Role of Indigenous Peoples in Marine Environmental Protection. In her two years of research at the JCLOS, she has been exploring the role of non-State actors in environmental decision making and working on a new methodological path for comparative legal research. She is deeply grateful to the JCLOS group for the constant and relentless support in developing and sharing innovative ideas relating to new methodologies in legal research. The success of the YoungCAS 2018 Workshop would not have been possible without such support.

The workshop gave Margherita the opportunity to reflect on her research in Norway, and to find her true self in the Arctic context. She took away with her with a renewed understanding of the importance to work in cooperation with young and enthusiastic researchers and with the motivation to further develop project ideas with the YoungCAS and the JCLOS team. 


Reflecting on her experience during the Workshop, Margherita exclaimed, “Another world is actual!”

Page administrator: Logan Turner
Last updated: 11.07.2018 09:07