Welcome to Our 2021-2022 Public Scholarship Fellow!
October 26, 2021
Doctoral student Julia Bingham is the Anne Firor Scott Graduate Fellow in Public Scholarship for 2021-22. Julia is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Marine Science and Conservation (MSC) at the Duke Marine Lab. We recently asked her to introduce herself.
In my work, I aim to develop environmentally-sustainable and socially-just coastal management through inclusive, participatory, and community driven research. Throughout my academic journey, my focus has remained very rooted in the relationships between people and our natural world, with care given towards protecting both ecological and social systems and a growing recognition that these systems are intertwined with each other.
What was your path to Duke and the Marine Lab?
I started my academic path at Oregon State University studying Marine Biology and International Studies. I was especially interested in intertidal ecology, and spent over three years gaining field and lab research experience in Oregon’s rocky intertidal systems. My honors thesis research focused on gooseneck barnacles and led to a Sea-Grant funded collaborative project between multiple stakeholders on the Oregon coast to inform a community-supported fishery.
I helped lead OSU Divest, a student-organized campaign demanding OSU remove their investments in fossil fuels and redistribute those funds to support environmental and social justice initiatives and renewable energy technology. OSU Divest was ultimately successful in its mission.
Through working with stakeholders in my research and learning about intersectional environmental justice in Divest organizing, I became interested in more community- and politically- focused areas of research. Those interests led me to graduate studies at Duke, where I could develop skills in multiple branches of environmental social sciences. I still love ecology, but through my graduate studies I've found a fulfilling and motivating space in political ecology and critical geography.
What motivates you?
Listening to communities is, in my opinion, at least as important as pursuing scientific outreach. Prioritizing accessibility to research process and outcomes further supports beneficial and equitable community engagement. I believe this approach facilitates beneficial collaborations shared between researchers, practitioners, and the public.
Fostering healthy relationships between people and the natural world is core to both my academic and personal life. I’m originally from Arcata, CA and grew up moving between California, Oregon, and Colorado, privileged to have always lived in places with access to water, mountains, and forests. I’m an avid runner, gardener, hiker, backpacker, and camper. I’m lucky to have family, friends, and mentors who value caring for these spaces and who’ve supported my creative and scientific interests. My artistic work is grounded in understanding the self through relationship with the natural world. My academic work aims to support sustainable and vibrant futures for coastal communities.
I’m motivated by a desire to shift our society's relationships to the environment away from extractive practices and towards relationships of care and reciprocity. I’m also driven by the fear, grief, and anger that accompanies watching the effects of climate change threaten the lives of millions of people and destroy places I love. I maintain hope through a vision of a more environmentally- and socially-just future for all people, and through the knowledge that this vision is shared by so many who are willing to study, work, and fight to build that future.
Tell us about your research and why you find it meaningful and important.
My dissertation research focuses on knowledge and power in coastal fishery governance. I study the integration of multiple knowledges, values, and worldviews into the governance of salmon on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I conduct research with the permission and guidance of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and Ha'oom Fishing Society, with intent to support Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations' path towards self-determination through agency in fisheries governance.
I’m excited about my research for its interesting theoretical grounding and especially for its potential for beneficial impact. I hope to provide useful analysis to support environmentally, politically, and socially improved local salmon management. My work also supports future research relationships for Tla-o-qui-aht and Ha’oom through the development of protocols by which they can develop beneficial collaborations with academics through Indigenous leadership.
I also hope that my research contributes to academic theory and can be more broadly useful in fisheries governance. I aim to challenge the status quo of how Federal governments of Settler states tend to approach sustainable resource management in the Global North and provide important insight into more equitable approaches to research and knowledge integration.
At the Forum for Scholars and Publics, we value relationships, listening, and generosity as core principles of public scholarship. What role do these principles play in your research and public engagement?
My work centers relationship-building grounded in trust, respect, and reciprocity. I try to ensure that my research abides by the values and principles which inform the social, political, environmental practices of my Indigenous collaborators. The Nuu-chah-nulth worldview is centered on the concepts of hishukish-t’sawalk (everything is one) and isaak (respect) as well as the relational principles of consent, recognition, and reciprocity. These principles are therefore central to the research relationships I hold with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and Ha’oom Fishing Society. Our formal research agreements are designed to support a reciprocal and respectful relationship. In exchange for supporting my work and collaborating on this research, it is my responsibility to ensure that my research and public engagement in turn supports Nuu-chah-nulth interests. Throughout the project, the importance of respectful listening, shared learning, and generosity have been repeatedly stressed and modeled by my collaborators – not just in the research, but also in the management, governance, and cultural spaces I’ve been privileged to join.
I aim to carry these same principles into my public engagement. Listening to communities is, in my opinion, at least as important as pursuing scientific outreach. Prioritizing accessibility to research process and outcomes further supports beneficial and equitable community engagement. I believe this approach facilitates beneficial collaborations shared between researchers, practitioners, and the public.
Respectful listening, learning, and relational reflection are in general important practices in understanding and shaping one’s positionality, especially in community-centered and applied research such as mine. I am a white academic researcher working with Indigenous communities in Indigenous spaces. Depending on how I engage, my research and identity can serve either to disrupt or to perpetuate the harmful colonial legacies that echo throughout governance, societal, and academic spaces. Decolonization of these spaces necessitates Indigenous leadership, and that non-indigenous people such as myself who hold power and privilege consider our roles, relationships, and positionality within that space.
I engage in my research with care to ensure that my work follows the leadership of my Indigenous collaborators and can wherever possible support their path towards self-determination. I work with the intent to act as an ethical ally to my Indigenous colleagues but never to speak for their experiences or interests. I extend immense gratitude for their guidance, patience, and trust in our work and research together.
What is something you especially appreciate about the Marine Lab?
I really value the interdisciplinarity of the MSC program and of the lab overall. Students and faculty of several different natural and social scientific fields all work in one small location, which leads to really rewarding collaborations. I’m also grateful for the sense of community among the graduate students in particular, and for my friendships here. Plus, I love how easy it is to get out to the beach or on the water for a paddle!
We welcome Julia to the Forum for Scholars and Publics and look forward to working together in the coming months!