Supporting Visual Anthropology, Tromsø

Dear readers,

some of you may remember the film on Khanty fishing in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, Siberia, Russia by an Estonian graduate, Janno Simm. That film “Autumn on Ob River” came out in 2004 as a masters work at the Tromso visual anthropology programme. Now it seems that this programme is under threat of being closed down altogether. I have signed a petition urging the administration to rethink that closure. It has been a really cool programme, and I think it would be a loss to see it discontinued.

Here is the call for support text:

Save Visual Anthropology (VCS) at the University of Tromsø!

The paradoxical reason, given that it is located in one of the wealthiest countries on earth and attracts students from all over the world, is financial difficulties.

• Over half of VCS students in Tromsø are from developing countries.
• Most of these students would have had no chance of obtaining a degree without the programme.

• Many of them are now using their skills and qualifications to develop research and ethnographic film/documentary networks in their own countries, a good example being former students in Cameroon and Mali.

Visual Anthropology in general, and the VCS programme at UiTromsø in particular, have shown how humanistic and filmmaking skills in parts of the world prone to conflicts and political instability are helping to nurse the emergence of a civil society that can safeguard human rights locally, regionally, and internationally.

And this is why we’re signing this petition here.

Please also post your picture to the VISUAL PETITION at Save Visual Anthropology on Facebook.

Posted in All, Announcements, Fennoscandia, teaching | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

International conference about Indigenous Sacred Sites in the Arctic

Sacred sites mainThe Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland will organize an international conference on indigenous sacred sites in the Arctic. The conference “Protecting the sacred: Recognition of Sacred Sites of Indigenous Peoples for Sustaining Nature and Culture in Northern and Arctic Regions” will be held in Rovaniemi and Pyhätunturi, Finland, on September 11–13.

The conference gathers for the first time in Finland sacred sites custodians, scientists, indigenous people’s organizations, policy makers and other interested people, to talk and better recognize, legally protect, conserve and manage Sacred Sites and Sanctuaries of Indigenous Peoples in Northern and Arctic regions. Participants will come and speak related to the entire circumpolar area.

Besides academic and practitioner discussions, the conference also aims to produce recommendations for policy-making related to Sacred Sites and Sanctuaries in the Arctic as well as start a participatory educational research project to advance the transmission of spiritually relevant culturally embedded knowledge and practices related to sacred sites to younger generations. The aim is to make also a publication on the protection of the Sacred Sites and Sanctuaries in Northern and Arctic regions.

Abstracts and contact:
– the conference website is at
– or write an email to leena.heinamaki(at) or thora.martina.herrmann(at)
– or post your question here as a comment to this blog entry and we will get back to you


Posted in All, Announcements, conferences, Indigenous Peoples, Spirituality | Tagged | 1 Comment

Mining and local people in the North

Some of our team were recently at the Jokkmokk winter conference, which is held in connection to the famous Jokkmokk winter market, an important event in the Sámi yearly cycle for the last 400 years.The Jokkmokk winter market has been held already more than 400 years. Now mining comes closer to this place too, causing hot debates

The Jokkmokk winter market has been held already more than 400 years. Now mining comes closer to this place too, causing hot debates


At the conference which had a very policy and environmentalist NGO-related character, a

Continue reading

Posted in All, conferences, Extractive Industries, Fennoscandia, Indigenous Peoples, Sámi | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Simeon Buckley. Presentation in the Arctic Centre: Kangaroo Burgers and Supporting Indigenous People

(Simeon Buckley is a master’s student from RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia) and is working as a research assistant to Anna Stammler-Gossmann on a research project – Coastal communities of the Barents region and marine resources use: Seascape and fishing rights.
I chose the topic of kangaroo harvesting as it is an interesting comparison to traditional fishing rights of coastal Sami people. I would like to write my masters thesis on the topic of indigenous involvement in kangaroo harvesting and developing fair trade kangaroo products.

How indigenous is kangaroo hunting in Australia? Can this be a viable livelihood to support indigenous cultures? Photo from John Schreiber’s blog

I opened the presentation with a two quote that highlight the environmental difference of Australia compared with Europe.
“This land is cursed; the animals hop not run, birds run, not fly and the swans are black not white”. So wrote one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australia, Dirk Hartog, as he sailed away from the west coast in 1688. (Hartog in Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia 2013) Continue reading

Posted in All, Indigenous Peoples | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Snow Terminology in Nenets


Posted in All, Indigenous Peoples, oral history, Russian North | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

We are teaching again, Rovaniemi

Advanced level studies: (ASPA2013) Identity on the Move: Sense of belonging to place and people
January 15 – February 28, 2013

15.01.2013 – Introductory lecture (Dr. Anna Stammler-Gossmann, Dr. Nuccio Mazzullo, Dr. Stephan Dudeck)

24.01.- 29.01. 2013 – Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Transboundary identity
– Indigenous identity: Between transnational – national – local
Spatial identity
– Search for national identity: Concept of the North in Russia
Switching identity
– Animal symbolism and regional identity construction

Posted in All, Announcements, teaching, Theoretical Issues

Siberia films online Finnish TV

Finnish State TV Yle has been sending a number of excellent documentaries on and / or by northern indigenous people recently. You can watch them usually for three weeks longer online.

Today there will be the screening on YLE TEEMA TV of Lapsui/Lehmuskallio’s famous “Seven Songs from the Tundra”, the world’s first fiction film in Nenets language. It will also be online here.

The film Poron hahmossa pitkin taivaankaarta (In the Shape of a Reindeer Across the Canopy of Heaven, 1993), watchable online here,

Lapsui/Lehmuskallio, Seven Songs, watchable until mid February

Lapsui/Lehmuskallio, Seven Songs, watchable until mid February

is also by the famous couple Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio (see our blog entry on their visit to our team in Rovaniemi in 2012). The film tells a lot about the close relationship that people, animals, spirits and other beings in the environment of West Siberia have amongst each other.

I found especially interesting in the end how a young reindeer herder tells about the spirit-statues that travel with the nomads across the tundra and help them in various difficult situation, for example giving birth, or reindeer herd health, or predator attacks. But this is by far not the only sequence that is really worth looking.

Happy watching!

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