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Weweni: Karla Jessen Williamson

Wed. Jan. 22 12:30 PM - Wed. Jan. 22 01:30 PM
Location: Convocation Hall, University of Winnipeg

Karla Jessen WilliamsonThe fourth lecture in the University of Winnipeg’s Weweni Indigenous Scholars Speaker Series is Dr. Karla Jessen Williamson’s talk on “Indigenous Knowledge and Heavens.”

Dr. Jessen Williamson’s work explores gender relations in post-colonial Greenland Inuit communities from a cultural point-of-view, offering insight on social construction of gender relations. She adopts the concept of “genderlessness” to reflect the egalitarian nature of Inuit society. Challenging the philosophical underpinnings of Western feminist thought as being too androcentric and narrow, she argues instead that pinngortitaq, which is defined as “the environment, the habitat, or the totality of the world or creation perceived in the context of the universe,” is a more relevant and useful tool to assess gender within Inuit society. Furthermore, Jessen Williamson contends that Inuit use timikkut (the body), anersaakkullu (the spirit) and tarnikkut (the name/soul) as a lens through which to view the world.

Dr. Jessen Williamson is an Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations at the University of Saskatchewan, and the first Inuk to be tenured at any Canadian university. She is a kalaaleq, an Inuk from Greenland, who was born in an outpost camp, Appamiut, grew up on Maniitsoq, and underwent a schooling process in Greenland and Denmark, strongly influenced by assimilation. As a trilingual speaker, Dr. Jessen Williamson’s research focuses on insights into how the Western power structure is invested into institutions of learning and workforce. She uses the Inuit worldview, philosophy, and sensibility to express Indigenous decolonization efforts and deconstruct the Western encapsulation of Indigenous thoughts. Though an academic, Dr. Jessen Williamson is also a published poet. Dr. Jessen Williamson has two adult children with her late husband, Dr. Robert Williamson, and her three Greenlandic speaking grandchildren are growing up in Iqaluit, Nunavut.