New Book on Sámi Educational History

“Sámi Educational History in a Comparative International Perspective” establishes an overview of Sámi education in an historical and internationally comparative perspective and examines indigenous educational history around the world, ranging from Asia to Oceania to Sápmi and the Americas.Sami educational history book cover

The new book provides a comprehensive overview of Sámi education in an internationally comparative and multidisciplinary perspective, including anthropology. Despite the cross-national character of the Sámi population, academic literature on Sámi education has so far been published within the different nation states in the Sámi area, and rarely in English. Exploring indigenous educational history around the world, this collection spans from Asia to Oceania to Sápmi and the Americas. The chapters frame Sámi school history within an international context of indigenous and minority education. In doing so, two narrative threads are established: both traditional history of education, and perspectives on the decolonisation of education. This pioneering book will appeal to students and scholars of Sámi education, as well as indigenous education around the world.

Contributing authors: Daniel Lindmark (Umeå University), Ritva Kylli (University of Oulu), Jukka Nyyssönen (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway), Andrej Kotljarchuk (Södertörn University), Lukas Allemann (University of Lapland, Arctic Centre), Ekaterina Zmyvalova (Umeå University), Hanna Outakoski (Umeå University), Torjer A. Olsen (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway), Inker-Anni Linkola-Aikio (Sámi  University of Applied Sciences), Merja Paksuniemi (University of Lapland), Pigga Keskitalo (University of Lapland), Marikaisa Laiti (University of Lapland), Yoko Tanabe (University College London), Madoka Hammine (University of Lapland), Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen (University of Helsinki), Francisco Apurina (University of Helsinki), Lea Kantonen (University of the Arts Helsinki), Mere Kepa (James Henare Maori Research Centre), Elizabeth Jackson-Barrett (Murdoch University), Libby Lee Hammond (Murdoch University) and Otso Kortekangas (Stockholm University)

More information:

https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030241117

Arctic youth well-being reserach project WOLLIE goes to Kola Peninsula

Last week, the mid-term meeting of our research project on youth in Arctic industrial settlements (WOLLIE) took place in Kirovsk and Revda, two mono-industrial cities in the Murmansk Region, North-West Russia. While discussing our project goals and achievements so far, we also visited several places. Being highly industrialised, densely populated and relatively compact, the Murmansk Region showcases the huge diversity of mono-industrial settings in the Arctic.

The WOLLIE team in Revda, where the local teenagers showed us their favourite hang-out place: the ruins of a Soviet-time building project

Single-industry towns are widespread all over the Arctic. What can they offer to their young generation inhabitants? Why do young people want to leave, or to stay? What can be done to make them stay, or return? These are the main questions that WOLLIE is trying to answer. Continue reading “Arctic youth well-being reserach project WOLLIE goes to Kola Peninsula”

Discussion: pros and cons of research cooperation between academia and military/security organisations

This month’s reading and discussion circle of our Arctic Anthropology team is open to all interested participants! Given the relevance of the topic for the entire academia, we explicitly welcome scholars and students also from other research groups and academic fields than ours. We will discuss the pros and cons of research cooperation between academia and military/security organisations.

TIME: 22 August 2019, 12:00 (noon), Helsinki time (UTC+2)

PLACE: Arctic Centre, Borealis room, 2nd floor, Pohjoisranta 4, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Chapter to read: Rubinstein, Robert A. 2011. “Ethics, Engagement and Experience: Anthropological Excursions in Culture and the National Security State.” In Dangerous Liaisons: Anthropologists and the National Security State, edited by Laura A. McNamara and Robert A. Rubinstein, 145–66. Santa Fe, N.M.: School for Advanced Research Press.

A short introduction to the topic: Rubinstein (2011, 145) observed that “security agencies and organizations are expending considerable efforts and resources to figure out how to […] bring anthropologists and other social scientists to work with them.” This includes not only direct employment but also funding of and access to publications and conferences (Ferguson 2013). A recent example is a common workshop held in Rovaniemi in Spring 2019 about security issues, to which Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) and NATO experts were invited and which was fully funded by the latter.

The traditionally left-wing preponderance in anthropology tends to strong ethical reservations, up to complete denial, towards any forms of academic cooperation with military and other security organisations, due to concerns about misappropriation. We should, however, also admit that denial and outrage often goes hand in hand with generalisations about the military “in a totalizing fashion that our discipline would never sanction were they to be applied to other peoples” (Rubinstein 2013, 121). Also in our discipline there are voices advocating a responsible cooperation in order to contribute to better-informed decisions within military structures. After all, a pragmatic discussion acknowledging the presence of the military as an immutable fact boils down to one question: does bringing knowledge about societies into the military rather increase or reduce harm inflicted to people.

As overt and covert interest of military and security organisations in our work as social scientists is potentially everywhere, we will discuss in this session a chapter that tries to offer a balanced discussion, without slipping into sweeping generalisations and negative stereotypes about “the military”. The goal is to discuss according opportunities and dangers of cooperation.

Further readings for those interested in the topic:

Chamayou, Grégoire. 2015. Drone Theory. New York: Penguin.

Ferguson, R. Brian. 2013. “Full Spectrum: The Military Invasion of Anthropology.” In Virtual War and Magical Death: Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing, edited by Neil L. Whitehead and Sverker Finnström, 85–110. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Rubinstein, Robert A. 2013. “Master Narratives, Retrospective Attribution, and Ritual Pollution in Anthropology’s Engagements With the Military.” In Practicing Military Anthropology: Beyond Expectations and Traditional Boundaries, edited by Robert A. Rubinstein, Kerry B. Fosher, and Clementine K. Fujimura, 119–30. Sterling, Virginia: Kumarian Press.

Price, David H. 2016. Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Ssorin-Chaikov, Nikolai. 2018. “Hybrid Peace: Ethnographies of War.” Annual Review of Anthropology 47 (1): 251–62. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102317-050139.

Воспоминания коренных жителей Севера о национальных и вспомогательных школах-интернатах – Testimonies about boarding schools among indigenous people in Russia’s North

English text see below.

The native boarding school in Lovozero –
Национальная школа-интернат в Ловозере

Цель данной статьи – предоставить слово бывшим ученикам интернатов Севера России, с особенным упором на вспомогательных школах-интернатах советского периода, в народе приобретавшие печальное прозвище «дебилки». Материалы являются свидетельством событий с 1960-х по 1980-е годы. Я собирал эти материалы в проекте по устной истории в течение последних лет и решил опубликовать здесь небольшую часть в связи с недавним постом на фейсбуке о вспомогательных школах в местах проживания коренного населения Севера России. Пост этот за три дня вызвал более ста реакций и тридцати комментариев. Это было для меня окончательным подтверждением того, что истории о вспомогательной школе в Ловозере Мурманской области не единичные случаи, а вспомогательные школы Советского времени – больная тема для многих жителей по всему Северу России. Ниже приведенные материалы также являются дополнением к моим научным статьям на тему вспомогательных школ на Севере.

В отличии от Канады, Аляски и скандинавских стран, в России тема интернатского школьного обучения коренных детей Севера широкого общественного резонанса пока не получала – хотя есть что обсуждать, как наглядно показала упомянутая дискуссия на фейсбуке. Но особенно для западного читателя важно отметить, что среди бывших учеников в России полностью отсутствует аналог распространенному в Северной Америке дискурсу «сурвайверов», в котором общепринято называть выпускников интернатов «выжившими». Такая терминология казалась бы неуместной большинству бывших учеников в России, так как она заведомо исключает положительные воспоминания и оценки интернатов, а такие воспоминания безусловно присутствуют. К ним относятся, например, положительная оценка профессиональных перспектив и возможность подняться по социальной лестнице; также чувства благодарности и привязанности к бывшим учителям и воспитателям (не ко всем, разумеется!), относившимся к своей работе с приверженностью и с пониманием к стрессу ребенка вдали от дома. К отрицательным моментам в воспоминаниях относятся предвзятость персонала и стигматизация обществом, вклад интернатов в ассимиляцию коренного населения и утерю коренного языка и традиционного образа жизни, психологическое давление и даже насилие, вплоть до отправления подростков в психбольницы в качестве наказания. Для некоторых детей школа показала путь к социальному опусканию.

At the native boarding school in Lovozero –
Национальная школа-интернат в Ловозере

В подборке приведены воспоминания в основном от саамских, но не только, выпускников национальной и вспомогательной школ-интернатов в Ловозере. Кроме того, я включил беседу с бывшим директором вспомогательной школы; она тоже по национальности саами, что само по себе наглядный пример возможностей (или подводных камней) советской системы образования. Отобранные материалы дают представление лишь об одной, но самой темной стороне этой системы среди коренных жителей Севера – попадание здоровых детей во вспомогательные школы, использование этих школ как бы «не по назначению». Определялись такие дети в такие школы в основном в 70-е годы, часто из-за слабых знаний русского языка и советской, городской культуры. Такие «пробелы» соответствующими комиссиями часто определялись как олигофрения. Причины видятся многие, в том числе: предвзятость; заинтересованность в сохранении рабочих мест и повышенной зарплаты; улучшение жилищных показателей (дети выписывались из квартир, многие из которых были переполнены переселенцами из ликвидированных деревень). В связи с данной тематикой отрицательные моменты в этой подборке воспоминаний явно преобладают, но важно еще раз отметить, что в целом среди всех собранных мной материалах об интернатах также присутствует много положительных воспоминаний.

Транскрипция ненаучная, является компромиссом между легкой читаемостью и близостью к оригинальной речи. Это значит, что оборванные предложения, отражающие перескакивание мысли, передаются без сглаживания. Одним словом, передаются все обычные признаки живой речи. Жирный шрифт означает громкую речь, троеточие – оборванную речь (незаконченное предложение). Все имена в текстах изменены. О=отвечающий, И=интервьюер.

Публикуя данную сборку воспоминаний, хочется в первую очередь благодарить всех, кто со мной поделился. Я надеюсь, что эти голоса дадут толчок дальнейшему развитию обсуждения интернатской истории Севера и ее последствий для местного населения.

Цитаты из интервью на русском языке опубликованы ниже после англоязычного перевода этого текста.

*****

In this contribution, which will be mainly in Russian, I want to give the floor to the numerous voices about boarding schools among indigenous people in Russia and the former Soviet Union, which I have collected during the past years during my oral history research. The discussed period is mainly the 1960s to 1980s.

At the native boarding school in Lovozero –
Национальная школа-интернат в Ловозеро

This is complementary material to my research articles on the oral history of boarding schools (references below) and to a discussion on facebook, which I came across recently. To this day, in Russia there have been far less public discussions on the past of residential schooling among indigenous children than in Canada, Alaska and the Nordic countries. The mentioned discussion on facebook, which gathered over one hundred reactions and thirty comments within the first three days, shows, however, that there is a need to sort out the matter.

At the native boarding school in Lovozero –
Национальная школа-интернат в Ловозере

There seems not to be a demand for a discourse coined by the concept of “survivance”, contrary to for instance Canada. Such a terminology would seem inadequate to most former pupils in Russia as it would preclude the widespread recollections on the positive sides of the system. But this doesn’t mean there is no demand for talking about those schools, which heavily changed the lives of individuals and communities to this day. In my research in Lovozero, Murmansk Region, North-West Russia (also known as Russian Lapland) one of the most negative aspects of the Soviet boarding school system among indigenous children was the local, so-called remedial school for mentally disabled children, which officially had no ethnic dimension whatsoever. It existed from 1970 to 1994. The bigger school though in the village was the native boarding school, which was opened in 1959 and closed a few years ago. This was a general school with some additional elements focusing on (mostly visual and material) features of the local indigenous cultures. This latter type of schools was designed for healthy children. During my oral history research, I found out that there were many wrong appointments to the remedial school among indigenous children due to their lower level of knowledge of the majority language and culture (more information on this in my articles, see references below). However, as this was a qualitative case study in a spatially limited area and there is no other research on those schools, I had difficulties in assessing how widespread this practice was across the whole, immense Soviet North. The timely discussion on facebook gave me an answer. The initial post was about one such school in Russia’s Far East, and it triggered a cascade of comments and accounts on exactly such schools and such practices in many different places of Russia’s North. Continue reading “Воспоминания коренных жителей Севера о национальных и вспомогательных школах-интернатах – Testimonies about boarding schools among indigenous people in Russia’s North”

Who closed the border between Finland and Russia? A reply to The Independent Barents Observer

The saga about the Northern migrant route for asylum seekers wishing to reach a European country recently got a new turn: Since April 2016 the Russian-Finnish border in Lapland is closed for third-country citizens. The international staff of researchers at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi including me personally (a Swiss-Italian citizen) are deeply concerned by the new agreement between Finland and Russia about these new border-crossing limitations between Russia and Finland. It limits our possibilities to act as researchers in Russia, as well as it undermines the Euro-Arctic Barents Cooperation in general. For example, I do research among the Russian Sami people, and it has been essential in the past years to cross the border to reach the Murmansk Region for doing my research.

Many people seem to wonder: Why? How could it be that such a deal could happen?

Barentsobserver

I have been talking a lot with other people both in Finland and in Russia, and also read some materials about it. The most visible English language source of information on the topic is The Independent Barents Observer. In their article “Russia insisted on closing Lapland borders for third country citizens” they basically give this explanation: “Russia wanted to split Finland from the EU”, and this also seems to be a mainstream opinion in Rovaniemi, where I live. However, in my opinion, this explanation inadequately reflects the true situation behind the current border closure for third-country citizens. I would like to elaborate on this.

It has been conveyed also by the Finnish mainstream press (which I am going to criticise below) that the closure of the border was Finland’s initiative, and that Finland asked to include the EU/EEA+Switzerland countries into the list of allowed countries. However, what is not conveyed by any of the mentioned sources is the principle of reciprocity which is a basic principle of any bilateral negotiations (I worked myself in diplomacy before joining the Arctic Centre as a researcher).

In this case, reciprocity means an approximate balance in the amount of countries exempted by the agreed border restrictions. According to oral information by a Finnish border guard, during the negotiations Russia asked also to include several countries which it is on good terms with, exactly as Finland did. That are countries like Kazakhstan, Kryrgyzstan and some other countries, which are not producing refugees (although for some Western populists and their followers countries with a name ending on “-stan” may by default evoke such fears). In simple words: If Finland asked to include its friends, then Russia also wanted to include its friends. By all standards, it is highly unlikely that an unequal deal FIN+30 countries vs. RUS+1 country is possible, and in the end the Finns evidently opted for a deal only FIN+RUS/Belarus. As it is a common practice in international diplomacy to make agreements on equal terms, this sounds to me as a much more rational explanation than the simplistic explanation mode “it’s Putin, stupid!”. It must be said clearly: It was the Finns who rejected an equal deal with a higher number of included countries on both sides and thus heavily undermined Barents cooperation and European cooperation in general.

Instead of giving a balanced analysis explaining the reasonable arguments of all involved parties, both the Finnish tabloid Iltalehti and The Independent Barents Observer (which is even more disappointing given its declared “devotion for cross-border cooperation, dialogue and mutual understanding“) adhere to a way of reasoning which long since has become a standard explanation for almost everything which goes wrong in relations between Russia and the West. This shallowness of reasoning is highly regrettable. Their statement that Russia insisted on such a deal because it wanted to tear apart Finland from the EU is not just shallow. By presuming that Finland would have had no other choice than agree with Russia’s demands it also wrongly presumes a limited sovereignty of this country. However, Finland is a fully sovereign country, and it could have simply withdrawn its initiative on closing the border if it did not agree with Russia’s legitimate demand for signing an agreement on equal terms. Unfortunately, it opted for the isolationist way.

A Memory Stick Packed With Memory – Карта памяти, заполненная памятью

2015-10-14 12.57.41***Русский текст ниже***

As a major outcome of the ORHELIA project (Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic), our research team is proud to present a USB-Stick with oral history recollections from the different indigenous communities where we have been doing research during the past four years. The stick contains audio-visual and written materials from conversations we had with elders out in the tundra and in tiny kitchens over tea and sweets, all over the Eurasian Arctic from the mouth of the Lena River till Finnish Lapland.

ORHELIA Stick Screenshot 2

The stick offers a selection of remembrances both of happy and sad stories from people who have witnessed huge social, political and economic changes during their lives. There are stories about Stalinist terror and the Germans on the Arctic front during World War II, about boarding schools for indigenous children, about lethally poisonous rocket parts falling from the sky onto the soil of the tundra, as well as about playing Saami football, bear hunting stories, multilinguality or giving birth out in the tundra. A dominant topic throughout many stories from all regions are relocations by the state. This has turned out to be a common thread for many indigenous communities during the many upheavals of the 20th century. For understandable reasons, we couldn’t pack all stories on a stick – during our project we recorded several hundreds of hours of conversation – but any choice has something arbitrary and is regrettable, for no story is better than another. What we tried is to give a glimpse of the thematic, geographic and temporal broadness of the stories collected. Another aim was to show that there are not only stories of sufferance. Both the happy and the difficult moments in life should be present on the stick, as was the case in our conversations.

 

But why a USB stick and not, for instance, a web site? The USB stick is the first step in the popular dissemination of the results of our project. From the outset of our four-year oral history endeavour, it was a primary goal to bring our results back to those people who made our research possible at first hand. The USB stick is a format which allows accessing the information wherever there is a device like a computer or a tablet, even without an internet connection. In fact, even in the remotest tent on Yamal peninsula, families today have such devices, but due to the absence of mobile network coverage they mostly don’t have internet. For the younger generation, it will be a fun way to explore their elders’ past, which – as many told us – is interesting to them, but in the everyday routine only rarely becomes a matter of common conversations. For all generations it will be interesting to compare the stories from their community with fates from other people and places of the North. In the next months, we will go back to our corresponding research areas and disseminate the stick among all our contributors. By bringing back some of our results we also want to express our gratitude to our interlocutors. Special acknowledgement also goes to Stephan Dudeck and Antti Tenetz who dedicated many hours to designing and correcting the actual content of the stick. Without them, our common baby would never have become reality!

ORHELIA Stick Screenshot 3

The current edition of the stick is in Russian. Translated Finnish and English versions will follow. For broader public dissemination, we also plan an internet site with similar content. When we will go online we will announce it here on our blog, so stay tuned!

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2015-10-14 12.59.30Наша команда исследователей от проекта ORHELIA (Oral History of Empires by Elders in the Arctic / Устная история империй, рассказанная стариками Арктики) рада сообщить об издании флеш-накопителя с историями из разных коренных народов Севера, собранными нами в течение последних четырех лет. На этой «флешке» последнего поколения в формате кредитной карточки содержатся видео-, аудио- и письменные материалы из бесед с пожилыми жителями всей евразийской части Арктики, от устья реки Лены до финской Лапландии, записанных то в чуме где-нибудь в тундре, то за чаем на уютной квартире в селе.

В коллекцию мы включили как веселые, так и грустные истории от людей, ставших свидетелями огромных социальных, политических и экономических перемен в течение их жизней. Можно посмотреть и послушать рассказы о Второй мировой войне и о сталинских репрессиях, о жизни детей в школах-интернатах, о ядовитых частях ракет, падавших на просторы тундры, о саамском футболе, о медвежьей охоте, о многоязычности в повседневной жизни, о родах в тундре, а также обо многом другом. Однако красной нитью по многим историям из всех исследованных регионов проходит тема переселений коренного населения. Она оказалась самым наболевшим из множества потрясений, принесенных ХХ веком.

ORHELIA Stick Screenshot 6

По понятным причинам, мы не смогли «кинуть» на флешку все собранные нами истории – проект собрал несколько сотен часов записи. Пришлось выбирать, и, к сожалению, любой выбор является произвольным, потому что в принципе нет плохих или хороших историй. В своей вынужденной выборке мы попытались передать тематическую, географическую и временную обширность собранных историй. Другая важная цель была включить не только истории о страданиях, а передать тот баланс между счастливыми и трудными моментами в жизнях людей, который мы встречали в беседах.

ORHELIA Stick Screenshot 1

А вот почему мы сделали флешку, а не сайт? Сайт несомненно будет, но флешка была для нас первым приоритетом при реализации очень важной цели нашего проекта: вернуть собранные знания тем людям, которые нам их давали. С самого начала нашего четырехлетнего проекта по устной истории Арктики это было одной из главных целей. Флешка – это формат, который соединяет два требования: интерактивность и в то же время доступность из любого места, где есть компьютер, ноутбук или планшет. Такие устройства сейчас можно встретить даже в самых отдаленных оленеводческих бригадах, а вот с интернетом из-за отсутствия мобильной сети во многих местах труднее. Для представителей более молодых поколений это будет познавательный, а иногда даже забавный способ узнать о жизнях своих предков. Многие нам признавались, что им истории бабушек и дедушек интересны, но в суете повседневной жизни стариков просто некогда расспрашивать. А если свободное время все-таки появляется, то хочется посмотреть «видик» или полазать в планшете. С флешкой можно будет соединить одно с другим. А для всех, включая старших, будет интересно сравнивать истории своего народа с человеческими судьбами в других арктических регионах, во многом, кстати, удивительно похожих.

ORHELIA Stick Screenshot 4

В течение следующих месяцев мы собираемся вернуться в те места, где мы собирали материалы и раздать флешки участникам проекта, а также другим заинтересованным людям. Возвращая людям истории из Арктики, мы выражаем всем участникам свою глубокую благодарность. Отдельное спасибо также заслужили Штефан Дудек и Антти Тенец из нашей команды. В основном они провели много часов за созданием дизайна, форматированием и корректированием материалов. Без них наше детище не получилось бы!

Текущее, первое издание сделано на русском языке. Попозже выйдут финская и английская версии. А вот для широкой публики позже мы планируем создать сайт с теми же материалами. Мы объявим об этом здесь, так что подпишитесь к нашему блогу и следите за новостями!