2023 GSI International Symposium

Memoir (12) by Professor Joe Watkins, University of Arizona, USA

On January 20-22nd, 2023, GSI had its annual symposium here in Sapporo. Friends and colleagues from different countries – including Australia, China, England, Sweden, and the United States – joined colleagues from around Japan to discuss topics related to “Indigenous Research Ethics and Cultural Heritage.”

After a bus ride to Biratori, we visited the local museums to get a background on the area. Then we went to the newly constructed Biratori Dam Visitors Center. Along the way to the Center, we were told stories by members of the local Ainu community about places of the landscape of spiritual importance to the community. We returned to the museums and shops in Biratori afterwards, and people were able to gather souvenirs and Ainu artwork for people back home.

The symposium began with the keynote lecture by Dr. Stanley Ulijaszek, University of Oxford, on Nutritional Anthropology, followed by a group dinner. Saturday’s events were focused on Indigenous Cultural Heritage and Cultural Landscapes, while Sunday’s presentations were focused on Research Ethics, Repatriation, and Indigenous Participation. The presentations were streamed live on Zoom, and some of the viewers provided comments and questions to the panelists.

The visitors enjoyed their experiences in the symposium and were glad to be able to get together with their GSI colleagues and other non-GSI members. We developed a new sense of camaraderie with each other but also developed new relationships we hadn’t been able to develop after two long years of quarantine!

A full description of the symposium is available at https://gi-core.oia.hokudai.ac.jp/gsi/gsi-international-symposium-2023.html, and we hope to produce an English version of the conference proceedings in 2024, with Japanese translations hoped for 2025. Stay tuned!

For more information on Biratori Dam, see Memoir (3) Biratori Dam Symposium of October 18, 2022.

GSI members and friends at the symposium
Photo courtesy of Dr. Sven Haakanson, University of Washington