#ScholarSpotlight with Karolina Werner

Werner%20GPNG.pngKarolina Werner is the NEST Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction at Western University and Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Studies at Carleton University. She holds a PhD in Global Governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs and specializes in governance, inclusion, and peace and conflict, especially in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. She is co-founder of the Institute for Natural Resources and Sustainable Development and Theme Leader. She previously held appointments at the University of Ottawa, Centre for International Governance Innovation, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).  

In this chat with Global Policy: Next Generation, Karolina discusses how indigeneity is significant to global policy, decolonising her discipline, and what she wishes she had known as a first-gen student. 

Listen to our interview with Karolina, and find more of our conversation in the written responses below:

What is the focus of your research? 

I focus on Indigenous governance, inclusion, and peace, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, but I am increasingly looking at settler-colonial states as well, such as Canada. 

Why is your research important to you? 

It keeps hope alive for me. 

Which academics’ work has inspired some of your key thinking?

There are so many – Mahmood Mamdani, V. Y. Mudimbe, Meera Sabaratnam, Pierre Englebert, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Adom Getchaw, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, and increasingly Indigenous studies scholars from North America such as Sheryl Lightfoot or Glen Coulthard.

What issues do you see your field being focused upon in the next several years?

I think we will continue to look at decolonizing the discipline and focusing on including more scholars from regions outside of the Global North. I hope that this will help in decentering the Eurocentric focus of the field and will highlight knowledge from regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, and its applicability across the world. 

How does your research link to or have an impact on global policy issues?

My research impacts global policy issues on several levels. The issue of inclusion as well as indigeneity are both very pertinent to the current international (and national) policy discourses. This is evident in international declarations and policies, such as the SGDs (especially SDG 16), the Sustaining peace resolutions, as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

What is the one piece of advice you wish you had been given when starting your academic career?

As a first-gen student, I wish someone had taken the time to explain to me all the unspoken rules, from contacting possible supervisors, to how to choose a supervisor, all the way to how faculty interviews and tenure work. I am sure there are many more things that I still do not know, and therefore have not asked about.

What is one must-read book/ article for scholars not in your field?

Again, there are many, so it is hard to choose one. Maybe the novel by Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart.