Heidi ja Marjo 550x367.jpg
Photo: Ville Rinne

New publication: Hope is by definition a welcome consideration, but its political dimensions have remained unacknowledged

17.5.2022 9:34

In their new book, researchers Marjo Lindroth and Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen examine the entanglements between hope and politics and the ways in which hope has become a tool for the exercise of power.

Hope has entered a wide variety of contemporary discussions spanning from climate change, global migration and security to the rights of indigenous peoples. In a world that is filled with uncertainty, hope seems to provide, if not solutions, then at least some means to withstand the unknown. The importance of sustaining hope is vividly present also in political parlance.

– It speaks volumes of our time that social scientific research has increasingly paid attention to hope and its potential to both drive transformation and to prevent it, Lindroth and Sinevaara-Niskanen note. 

The new book, published by Routledge in its series Interventions, invites the reader to reflect on the societal and political significance of hope. Hope has traditionally been perceived as something positive. Lindroth and Sinevaara-Niskanen’s research challenges this perception by delving into the less noble and acceptable consequences of evoking hope. 

– We hope in the present moment, but having those hopes fulfilled always requires an orientation to and a trust in the future. In this sense, hope is a pertinent tool for politics; that is, hope can be politically encouraged without actually committing to the materialisation of those hopes. Crucially, then, politics of hope is about luring us to focus on the promise of the future instead of focusing on the challenges in the present.  

The context for the book’s discussion on hope and its politics is the development of indigenous peoples’ rights in Australia, Finland and Greenland. In all of these countries, there are decades-long and ongoing political processes where indigenous peoples’ rights and positions are negotiated. Drawing on these developments, Lindroth and Sinevaara-Niskanen examine the larger political logic underpinning all of them and critically analyse the political workings of hope. 

In particular, the book provides a novel approach to the links between hope and colonialism. The steps forward that have been taken in indigenous-state relations in the past decades have engendered an air of hopefulness. At the same time, despite the progress made, many political and legal processes still remain open. 

– There is a common perception that, in the relations between indigenous peoples and states, hope is something that is linked to the political endeavours of indigenous peoples. The empowering and resistance-fueling nature of hope has been recognised. In this sense, hope can, indeed, be used to challenge the existing power relations. However, states can equally harness hope for their own purposes. Hope enables states to appear active in furthering the claims of indigenous peoples all the while retaining control over what, when and if, any change takes place. This side of hope, that is, how it operates for the benefit of those in power, has not emerged as a topic of discussion. 

The book provides in-depth discussions on the political nature of hope and the structures of power that rely on hope. It offers new perspectives for the study of hope, contemporary exercise of political power and, for example, the rights of indigenous peoples. 

Further information:
University researcher Marjo Lindroth, marjo.lindroth(at)ulapland.fi, 040-484 4028
University lecturer Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen, heidi.sinevaara-niskanen(at)ulapland.fi, 040-484 4132

Information on the publication:
Marjo Lindroth ja Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen (2022) The Colonial Politics of Hope: Critical Junctures of Indigenous-State Relations. Routledge, Interventions

Order information: www.routledge.com/The-Colonial-Politics-of-Hope-Critical-Junctures-of-Indigenous-State-Relations/Lindroth-Sinevaara-Niskanen/p/book/9780367755669