Nicholas Parlato

Graduate Research Assistant

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I am a second year PhD student and researcher with the Center for Arctic Policy Studies under the supervision of Dr. Amy Lovecraft. After graduating from Oberlin College with a BA in Russian and East European Studies, I taught ESL for two years in Donetsk, Ukraine and St. Petersburg, Russia. Returning to my hometown of Baltimore on the lands of the Nanticoke people, I took a position at the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation in Washington, DC where I spent two years developing materials and events to celebrate shared Russian-American history at venues such as the Russian embassy and American Film Institute. After working for a year as a research assistant at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and a freelance Russian-English interpreter in Maryland-area medical centers, I moved to British Columbia, Canada to undertake an interdisciplinary MA program under the supervision of Dr. Gail Fondahl.
My MA work was based on three months of fieldwork conducted in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in 2018, where I interviewed Indigenous government officials on the laws, procedures, and implementation of a key form of traditional land-use rights. The result was a thesis entitled “A Critical Legal Geography of Territories of Traditional Nature-Use (TTP) Formation in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)”, in which I laid out the complex mosaic of legislation governing Indigenous land use, revealed the evolution of registration processes for traditional territories in the Republic, and explored the psychosocial landscape of Russian legal culture. Over the course of this degree, I developed familiarity with a range of interconnected fields, including legal and political geography, sociolegal studies, and critical Indigenous thought.
My current interest relates to the myriad networks, systems, institutions, and assemblages through which the Arctic is currently understood, represented, and governed. I am especially interested in the construction of borders, institutional design, critical approaches to infrastructure, and science and technology studies. In my work, I am committed to collaborating with communities in the American-Russian Arctic to develop pragmatic, theory-driven research that contributes to Indigenous self-determination, regional peace-building, and epistemological pluralism. At present, I am an organizing member of the Fairbanks-Yakutsk Sister Cities coalition, project group lead for APECS Science and Diplomacy, and a research assistant on the Multisector Dynamics team of the InteRFACE project.

Publications:
Fondahl, G., Parlato, N., Filippova, V., Savvinova, A. (2021). The Difference Place Makes: Regional Approaches to “Territories of Traditional Nature Use” in the Russian North. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 12, 108-133.

Parlato, N., Fondahl, G., Filippova, V., Savvinova, A. (2021). The Evolution of Forming “Territories of Traditional Nature Use” in the Sakha Republic (Iakutia). Sibirica, 20(1), 1-27.
Parlato, N. (2017). Building an International Guide to Online Arctic Ethnographic Collections: One Museum at a Time. Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Newsletter, No. 24.


Graduate Advisor: Amy Lauren Lovecraft

Graduate Project Description:

The partitioning and classification of marine areas for the purposes of regulation and management constitutes a unique production of legal space, not least due to the fragmentation of rule-making institutions and diversity of competing interests.

The extreme dynamicity of the changing Arctic, however, demands appropriately scaled, adaptive, and inclusive governance models based both in real-time scientific data and transparent collaboration with Indigenous and local stakeholders. Incorporating innovative scientific and political technologies such as “marine spatial planning”, “dynamic ocean management”, and “information bridging”, Arctic shipping governance must remain responsive and “response-able” to natural phenomena as well as macroeconomic, political, and technological-scientific changes.

In the Bering Strait, the certain and potential transboundary impacts of shipping activities point to the urgent need for bilateral and international institutional coordination and Indigenous-led approaches. Such actions could lay the groundwork for enhanced environmental diplomacy, participatory adaptation, and safer shipping practices.

Questions about how, by whom, and with what tools, values, and knowledge Bering Strait traffic will be governed must be addressed if just and equitable progress is to be made on these fronts. How are jurisdictional, regulatory, and scientific-observational spatializations of the BSR accelerating or mitigating the buildup of shipping risks? What forms of coordination, planning, and adjudication of authority among the region’s many actors contribute to mitigation of shipping risks?