Sharing thoughts from fieldwork

Terve! Bures!

My name is Anne-Marie Lapointe, and I am currently doing fieldwork in the Sámi community of Inari, Finland under the supervision of Dr Nuccio Mazzullo. I am a socio-cultural anthropology student at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada. The aim of my research project in Inari is to look at the dynamics between tourism and reindeer herding and how they influence the construction of Sámi identity.

My interest in the Arctic began when I first traveled to the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada. Like many other people who find their way to the North, I was instantly charmed by its amazing beauty and the strong culture of its peoples. To deepen my knowledge about the North, last year I attended the Arctic Studies Program (ASP) at the University of Lapland to familiarize myself with the diverse livelihoods and issues of the circumpolar regions. My studies and participation in some of the cultural aspects related to reindeer herding inspired me to prolong my stay in Finland, in order to obtain a closer perspective on the reality of life in northern communities.

My experience of the Sallivaara's calves earmarking!

A few weeks have passed, and I can say that my time in Inari has been filled with great acquaintances and experiences. At the same time, there is no doubt that challenges and questions have emerged over the weeks; trying to be part of a community is always tough, especially without local language skills. However, I can say that my fieldwork has already taught me a lot and allowed me to gather plenty of information from various sources, both from locals and tourists.

So far in terms of my research, I can say that the relationships between the Sámi, tourism, and reindeer herding are complex and multifaceted, and by no means as simple as one might at first believe. I am amazed at the Sámi’s capacity to innovate and create in the face of constantly changing times, and have been particularly struck by their ability to participate actively in the tourism industry while at the same time staying true to their identities and traditions. In other words, the Sámi appear to have adapted to tourism while retaining, to some degree at least, control of the process.

However, to understand the dynamics existing within the industry, it is necessary to also look at things also from the perspective of the tourist: that person’s expectations, knowledge and background, as well as the social imageries carried from his or her culture. All these aspects shape not only the visitor’s experience and relationship to the Sámi, but that of later tourists as well, as the person returns home to share impressions, memories and anecdotes with friends and family.

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences and reflections about my research in the coming days.

News from Anár/Inari!

Bures!

My name is Trevelyan Wing, and I am currently conducting a research project in Inari, Finland, under the supervision of Dr. Nuccio Mazzullo. My fieldwork focuses on how environmental issues, related to climate change, are affecting Sámi reindeer herders and the overall institution of reindeer herding. I will be interviewing a number of herders in the coming weeks, and compiling narratives relevant to this study.

To provide some background information, I recently finished my second year of university studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, where my major is History with a concentration in International Relations. Global climate change is among my primary areas of interest, and I have been heavily involved with stimulating dialogue on the subject across academic disciplines on campus in my capacity as Chair of the Dartmouth Council on Climate Change. These activities inspired the present research, though my overall interest in the region and exposure to Sámi culture stretches back for some years. I travelled widely through Finnmark and across Swedish and Finnish Lapland in my mid-teens, and for a time attended high school in Östersund, Sweden, a center for the study of South Sámi culture situated in the southern region of Sápmi.

I’ve been familiarizing myself with various aspects of life in the village since arriving in late July, spending hours sifting through the great wealth of information provided by the Inari Sámi Museum (Siida), attending local events with new Sámi acquaintances, and transcribing information gleaned from informal conversations with locals and other Sámi passing through.

Reflecting on my time here so far, I’ve found the Sámi people to be profoundly modern yet proud of their traditions and heritage, a duality I have come to admire and appreciate. Their friendliness and openness have been impressed upon me every day, and people have been particularly forthcoming with helpful information and insights into various aspects of Sámi culture.

I look forward to the upcoming interviews with great anticipation, and to posting further observations and findings here as the research progresses.

Research partnerships & indigennous peoples

The anthropology research team invites everybody to a lecture and discussion about research partnerships of indigenous peoples with scientists!

Monday, 22 August, 14:00
Thule meeting room, Arktikum building
Rovaniemi

The occasion is a visit by Jill Taylor-Hollings from the Department of Anthropology of the University of Alberta, who will give a talk on

Learning about the Ancient Ahneesheenahbeg: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Research Partnerships Between Pikangikum First Nation, Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, and Archaeologists in the Boreal Forest of Northwestern Ontario, Canada

Continue reading “Research partnerships & indigennous peoples”