Contact information

Research Interests

Rebecca’s research is interdisciplinary and focuses on the intersection of Indigenous claims with governments and the private sector. She is also concerned with environmental controversies more generally, and the constitution of competing claims to truth in disputes concerning resource developments and their social and environmental impacts. Her current research projects concern relations between the mining industry and local/Indigenous communities in Sweden, Finland, Norway, South Africa and Australia. Case studies include the cumulative impacts of competing land uses on the traditional indigenous Sami livelihood of reindeer herding, in Sweden; the environmental rehabilitation at the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory of Australia; and the social impacts of coal-mining in the Hunter Valley, Australia. Rebecca’s research also covers:

  • Self-determination and the Swedish Saami Parliament
  • Contestations over wind power developments on traditional Saami lands in Sweden
  • The incorporation of social and environmental risk management systems in the financial sector
  • The Finnish forestry industry, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Indigenous Saami rights
  • Indigenous employment and training programs in the Central Australian mining industry
  • Shared Responsibility Agreements (mutual obligation contracts) in remote Australian communities

Central to these research concerns are the rights of Indigenous peoples; ethical responsibilities of the corporate sector and the chain of accountability throughout global resource industries. Rebecca works closely both with companies, NGOs and communities in her research. Rebecca’s intellectual interests include Foucauldian analyses of power, governmentality, liberalism, Indigenous rights theory, critical state theory, post-colonialism, gender theory and questions of representation.

Academic positions have included a guest position at the Gender Institute at London School of Economics and Political Science and a guest position at the Department of Human Geography at Macquarie University, Sydney, where Rebecca is an Honorary Associate. She has convened social theory courses on sexuality and governmentality, gives guest lectures in human rights, stakeholder engagement, ethical investment, supply-chain management, and CSR and has tutored in Human Geography courses on Globalisation and the Asia-Pacific region.

Rebecca has extensive professional experience outside of academia, including environmental and social planning, governmental public inquiries, and the private sector, including remote work at the Granites Goldmine in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia in the Indigenous Affairs and Community Relations Department. Rebecca also provides social impact expert witness evidence in the NSW Land and Environment Court. Rebecca has worked for the Human Rights Unit of the Saami Council, where she has provided advice to Saami organisations and communities in their negotiations with the proponents of resource developments. In this work Rebecca promoted responsible and sustainable corporate practices in forestry, mining, exploration and wind-power projects impacting on Saami communities and territories.


Publications

In progress

Lawrence, R., (manuscript in progress) “Rehabilitating Ranger Uranium Mine: Scientific Uncertainty, Deep Time and the Regulatory Abyss”. 

Raitio, C., Allard, C., & Lawrence, R., (manuscript in progress) “The Absent State: The Swedish Mining Industry and Sami rights in Sweden”.

Internationally peer reviewed articles and international book chapters (selected)

O’Faircheallaigh, C., & Lawrence, R., (Forthcoming) “Mine Closure on the Aboriginal Estate” Australian Aboriginal studies

Howlett, C., & Lawrence, R., (Forthcoming) Accumulating Minerals and Dispossessing Indigenous Australians: Native Title Recognition as Settler-Colonialism,  Antipode

Lawrence, R., & Kløcker Larsen, R., (2017) “The Politics of Planning: Assessing the Impacts of Mining on Saami Lands” Third World Quarterly, 38:5.

Lawrence, R. & Åhrén, M. (2016) “Mining as Colonisation: The Need for Restorative Justice and Restitution of Traditional Sami Lands” Head L, Saltzman S, Setten G and Stenseke M (eds) Nature, Temporality and Environmental Management: Scandinavian and Australian Perspectives on Landscapes and Peoples. Taylor and Francis, UK.

Lawrence, R., & Mörkenstam, U., (2016) “Indigenous Self-Determination through a Government Agency? The Impossible Task of the Swedish Sámediggi (Sámi Parliament)”, International Journey of Minority and Group Rights, 23:1.

Lawrence, R., Raitio, K., (2016) ”Academia and activism in Saami research: negotiating the blurred spaces between”, in Drugge, Anna-Lill (ed.),“Ethics in Indigenous Research – Past Experiences, Future Challenges”, Anthology, Vaartoe/CeSam:s skriftserie, Cemtrum för samisk forskning, Umeå.

Lawrence, R., (2014) "Internal colonisation and indigenous resource sovereignty: wind power developments on traditional Saami lands” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Vol. 32 (6).

Howitt, R., Doohan, K., Suchet-Pearson, S., Cross, S., Lawrence, R., Lunkapis, G. J., Muller, S., Prout, S. and Veland, S. (2013), ‘Intercultural capacity deficits: Contested geographies of coexistence in natural resource management’. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 54: 126–140.

Lawrence, R., & Mörkenstam, U., (2012) "Självbestämmande genom myndighetsutövning? Sametingets dubbla roller” 114:2, Statsvetenskaplig Tidsskrift.

Howitt, R, & Lawrence, R., (2008) ‘Indigenous peoples, Corporate Social Responsibility, and the fragility of the interpersonal domain’, in O’Faircheallaigh. C., and Ali., S., (Eds) Earth Matters: Indigenous Peoples, the Extractive Industries and Corporate Social Responsibility, Greenleaf.

Lawrence, R. (2008) ‘NGO Campaigns and Banks: Constituting Risk and Uncertainty’, Research In Economic Anthropology, 28, pp 241-269.

Lawrence, R. (2007) ‘Corporate Social Responsibility, Supply-chains and Saami claims: Tracing the Political in the Finnish Forestry Industry’ Geographical Research, 45:2, 167-176.

Lawrence, R. & Gibson, C (2007) ‘Obliging Indigenous Citizens: Shared Responsibility Agreements in Australian Aboriginal Communities’, Cultural Studies, 21, (4-5), pp. 650-671

Hobson, B., Carson. M, and Lawrence, R. (2007) ‘Recognition Struggles in Transnational Arenas: Negotiating Identities and Framing Citizenship’ in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 10:4, 443-470.

Lawrence, R. (2006) 'Sámi, citizenship and non-recognition in Sweden and the European Union', in Cant, G., Goodall, A., and Inns, J., (eds) Discourses and Silences: Indigenous peoples, risks and resistances, University Canterbury Press.

Lawrence, R. (2005) 'Governing Warlpiri Subjects: Indigenous Employment and Training Programs in the Central Australian Mining Industry' in Geographical Research, 43:1, 40-48.

Lawrence, R. & Adams, M. (2005) 'First nations and the Politics of Indigeneity: Australian perspectives on Indigenous peoples, resource management and global rights' in Australian Geographer, 36:2, 257-265.

Nationally peer reviewed articles

Lawrence, R., & Mörkenstam, U., (2012) ‘The curious double life of the Swedish Saami Parliament: Public Authority and Elected Parliament’[original in Swedish], Statsvetenskaplig Tidsskrift.

Monographs

Lawrence, R., (2009) ‘Shifting Responsibilities and Shifting Terrains: State Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility and Indigenous Claims’, Doctoral Thesis in Sociology at Stockholm University, Stockholm Studies in Sociology New Series 37.

Research reports

Lawrence, R., & Kløcker Larsen, R., (2017) ”Då är det inte renskötsel” - Konsekvenser av en gruvetablering i Laver, Älvsbyn, för Semisjaur Njarg sameby” [“That’s Not Reindeer Herding”: Impacts of the Proposed Boliden Mine in Laver, Älvsbyn, Sweden, for the Semisjaur Njarg Sami Reindeer Herding Community], Stockholm Environmental Institute, Project Report, 2016-01.

Research Projects

2014-2019. Chief Investigator: Indigenous Rights and the Global Politics of Resource Extraction: The Case of Mining in Sápmi. Funding: FORMAS The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (8.4 million SEK/$1.3 million AUD). Collaborators: Kaisa Raitio, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; and Christina Allard, Luleå Technical University.

2018-2019. Chief Investigator: Integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems into Environmental Decision Making: Communicating the Role of Community-Based Impact Assessments Funding: FORMAS, The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (500,000 SEK/ $75,000 AUD). Collaborators: Rasmus Kløcker Larsen, Stockholm Environment Institute; the Semisjaur Njarg Sami Community; and the National Swedish Sami Association.

2019-2022. Co-Applicant and Work Package Leader. Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Planning and Environmental Decision Making: The Role of Community-Based Impact Assessments. Funding: The Norwegian Research Council. (5.7 million NOK/ $925,000 AUD).  Collaborators: Else Grete Broderstad (Chief Investigator), Camilla Brattland and Vera Hausner at The Centre for Sami Studies, The Arctic University of Norway; Cathy Howlett, Southern Cross University, Australia; and Rasmus Kløcker Larsen, Stockholm Environment Institute.

2016- 2021. Co-Applicant and Research Task Leader. Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities - Nordic Centre of Excellence, Funding: Nordic Council of Ministers (28 million SEK /$4.6 million AUD). Collaborators: Sverker Sörlin (Chief Investigator), KTH Royal Institute Of Technology, Stockholm; Ninis Roskvist, Stockholm University; and Rasmus Kløcker Larsen, Stockholm Environment Institute, among others.

2015-2018. Co-Applicant and Partner Investigator. Contested landscapes: navigating competing claims and cumulative impacts in Northern Sweden. Funding: The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (5 millon SEK/ $760,000 AUD). Collaborators: Rasmus Kløcker Larsen (Chief Investigator); The Sirges Sami Community and the Vilhemmina Norra Sami Community.

2019-2022. Advisory Board Member. Mapping the impact of Mining using Multiple Knowledges. Funding: FORMAS, The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (3 million SEK /$450,000 AUD). Collaborators: Neal Robert Haddaway (Chief Investigator),  Biljana Macura, Annika Nilsson and Rasmus Kløcker Larsen at Stockholm Environment Institute.

2013-2017. Chief Investigator. Mining and communities: a study of how national and international norms on CSR and community rights influence corporate practices. (1.2 million SEK/ $200,000 AUD). Funding: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Foundation. Collaborators: Susanne Sweet and Håkan Tarras-Walberg, at Stockholm School of Economics Institute for Research.

Indigenous Rights and the Global Politics of Resource Extraction: The Case of Mining in Sápmi*

(*The traditional territories of the Sámi people in Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.)

Time schedule: 2014-2018.

Funding: FORMAS (Budget 8.4 mil SEK)

Project description

Over the last two decades there has been a growing global acknowledgement of Indigenous land and resource rights. At the same time, there has also been a dramatic increase in extractive activities and infrastructure projects on traditional Indigenous lands. Using the case of mining in Sápmi, this research project investigates the increasingly complex politics of resource extraction on traditional Indigenous lands emerging from these two contradictory trends.

Two theoretical questions will structure the research project. The first concerns the rights of Indigenous peoples to land and natural resources: how are we to understand the international recognition of Indigenous resource rights in relation to national legal systems? The second concerns the constitution of governing practices: how are shifting laws, rules and norms concerning Indigenous rights to resources changing negotiations between Indigenous peoples, states and corporations? What new co-management models are possible?

The project will use a comparative legal analysis across Sweden, Norway and Finland, addressing also international law pertaining to Indigenous peoples’ land and resource rights. In addition, the project will build on empirically detailed case studies of  mining conflicts in all three countries. The project aims to identify practical proposals for the recognition of Saami rights to land and resources through legal reforms and through institutional models for the co-management of natural resources.

The project includes the following research questions:

1. Comparative Legal Analysis

  • How do the national legal frameworks in the three Nordic countries take into account Sámi rights with respect to mining activities?
  • To what extent do the national mining legislations fulfil international legal requirements and norms on the protection of Indigenous rights?
  • Is there an indirect protection of Sámi rights via environmental legislation that seeks to achieve sustainable mining?
  • What lessons can be drawn generally and theoretically with respect to Sámi territorial rights and resource exploration?

2. Comparative community case studies

  • How do Sámi communities get a place at the negotiating table? Through the use of national/international laws or CSR norms? NGO-campaigning?
  • What new kinds of power relations and conflicts emerge once Sámi gain a place at the negotiating table?
  • If a community is against a mining project, how do communities decide whether to engage in dialogue or to disengage and protest instead?
  • Why do some communities succeed in having their rights recognised, and others not?

3. Building institutions for co-management

  • How might the Laponia World Heritage Site model be extended beyond “conservation co-management” to include the co-management of areas in Sweden where resource extraction activities may take place?
  • How might the Finnmark Act model be applicable and relevant to Sweden?
  • What lessons can be drawn from the comparative legal analysis and the case studies in terms of co-management institutions that are not reflected in the Laponia or Finnmark models?
  • What do different decision-makers and stakeholders in Sweden think about currently available models both within Scandinavia and internationally? What other alternatives might they envisage?

Research team:

Dr. Rebecca Lawrence (project manager), Department of Political Science (Stockholm University)

Dr. Christina Allard, Department of Social Sciences, Division of Jurisprudence (Luleå Technical University)

Assoc. Prof. Kaisa Raitio Department of Urban and Rural Development, Division of Environmental Communication (Swedish University of Agricultural Science)

Selected Media Appearances

15 June, 2018 “Mining Companies: Sami rights are not necessary” (Gruvbolagen: Rättigheter för samer behövs inte) Svenska Dagbladet, (National Swedish Newspaper)

29 November, 2017 “Thumbs down to proposed consultation bill” (Tummen ner till förslaget om konsultationsordning) Swedish Public Radio.

13 February, 2017 “Australia's 'most significant site' kept off UNESCO's World Heritage list”, interview in The Sydney Morning Herald, (Australian newspaper with highest readership)

7 September 2015 “Boliden wants to pursue mine”, (Boliden vill fortsätta med gruvplaner) Swedish Public Radio

5 June, 2015. ”Researcher not permitted to access UN complaint against Sweden”. Interview, Swedish Public Radio