Nomadic and Indigenous Spaces. Productions and Cognitions. Edited by Judith Miggelbrink, Joachim Otto Habeck, Nuccio Mazzullo and Peter Koch (2013). Surrey: Ashgate.
With contributions from the editors, Denis Wood, Denis Retaillé, Gail Fondahl, Brian Donahoe, Joseph J Long, Kirill V Istomin, Florian Stammler, Claudio Aporta, and Tim Ingold (epilogue)
How is space produced and how is it perceived? Looking at nomadic and indigenous peoples, we investigated this question between 2008 and 2012 in a collaborative research project between the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland and the Leibniz-Institute in Leipzig, Germany. A conference we organised in 2010 brought together international scholars to discuss experiences from different fields. During the conference, it quickly became clear that cognitivist and phenomenologist paradigms come to very different interpretations of nomadic and indigenous spaces. This book continues that debate and invites readers to further engage with the topic, since the main contestations have not been resolved, as Tim Ingold notes in his epilogue.
With my personal experience in anthropological research among the Sàmi people in Northern Lapland I was able to contribute to the collaborative project, Power technologies’ production of space: Sàmi territoriality and indigeneity. Looking at the example of a conflict over forest resources, I discussed with locals how different forms of power were affecting their livelihoods. The “Nellim case” is the epitome of complex power relations between states and indigenous peoples. Sàmi reindeer herders try to exercise their right to herd on traditional pasture land, which nowadays is being used for state forestry. At the time of my project, important winter pastures were threatened to be destroyed until a moratorium agreement was reached in 2010. In my fieldwork I realised that maps played an important role in the production of space, both indigenous and state space. My chapter “The Nellim Forest Conflict in Finnish Lapland. Between State Forest Mapping and Local Forest Living” discusses Foucault’s argument that space is fundamental in any exercise of power. In the Nellim conflict, maps have become the canvas on which space is being depicted and contested.
It has been argued that in the case of Nellim it was strategically important for indigenous peoples not only to rely on sketched presentations of their lived experiences, but to produce printed maps to match the format of representation with which they were confronted. … The production of maps has not changed [reindeer herders’] relationship to the land, but it has equipped them with a thorough understanding of how to engage with officials, administrators and planners in an entangled system of state and semi-state institutions. (Mazzullo 2013: 109)
Another contribution to this book from the Anthropology Research Team is Florian Stammler’s chapter “Narratives of Adaptation and Innovation. Ways of being mobile and mobile technologies among reindeer nomads in the Russian Arctic”, which is an important example of how technology is incorporated by nomadic cultures. Florian’s chapter is particularly interesting as he bridges the divide between the phenomenological and cognitivist understanding of perception.
Using examples as different as the iron stove, rubber boots, the snowmobile and personal communication technologies (PCT), I have shown how technological innovations adopted by a nomadic society, such as that of the Yamal-Nenets, influence flows of people and of communication, and with this also perception and experience of space, most prominently through physical processes of travel, but also imagined travel. (Stammler 2013: 240-41)
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