New Intern at Arctic Centre Rovaniemi

Léon Fuchs, from Versailles
Léon Fuchs, from Versailles

My name is Léon Fuchs and I will soon be 24 years old. I am a new intern at the Arctic Centre and I will stay in Rovaniemi until August 2015.

I will work with Dr. Anna Stammler Gosmann in the Anthropology Team. I come from France, but I have also lived two years in Sweden and a few months in Ireland.

I have a background in “Languages and Culture” (Strasbourg, France), and “Peace and Development Studies” (Växjö, Sweden). I am currently furthering my education with a second Master’s Degree in “Arctic Studies”, proposed by the University of Versailles, France. Continue reading “New Intern at Arctic Centre Rovaniemi”

Arctic Ark: new project on animal breeds, species and human practices in the Arctic

We are very happy to announce that we started working on a new project funded within the Finnish Academy’s Arctic programme, called

Eveny reindeer, courtesy of Narya Starostina, Eveno-Bytantay, Yakutia
Eveny reindeer, courtesy of Narya Starostina, Eveno-Bytantay, Yakutia

Arctic Ark. Human-animal adaptations to the Arctic environment: natural and folk selection practices (Arc-Ark)

The Arctic is often seen as a biodiversity-poor region, where animal husbandry is solely based on herding of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). However, in northern Europe and Siberia, also breeding of special autochthonous cattle (Bos taurus) and horse (Equus caballus) breeds has a long tradition (for example, Northern Finncattle, Yakutian cattle, Mezen horse and Yakutian horse). Continue reading “Arctic Ark: new project on animal breeds, species and human practices in the Arctic”

Кольские саами и антропологи Арктики потеряли большого друга

С большой скорбью сообщаем сегодня о грустной новости. Скончался Лейф Рантала, в течение многих лет являющийся ключевой фигурой саамских исследований в Университете Лапландии. С самого начала существования исследовательской группы антропологов в Рованиеми Лейф был нашим благосклонным сподвижником и незаменимым советчиком, время от времени участвуя с большим интересом в наших дискуссиях. Особенно, когда дело касалось российских саами, он нам много помогал, делясь ценной информацией из своей памяти, подобной громадному архиву, а также предоставляя нам материалы из огромной личной библиотеки.

Leif Rantala
Photo: The Sámi Archives, Leif Rantala’s collection

Помощь Лейфа была неоценимой при составлении первичной заявки в Финскую академию наук на соискание гранта для финансирования проекта ORHELIA. Без его вклада часть описания проекта, посвященная саами, не оказалась бы достаточно богатой. Возможно, Лейф не был настолько широко известен в области антропологии Арктики, однако среди лингвистов, особенно финно-угорского направления, он пользуется огромной славой. Многие из нас также вспомнят его как замечательного переводчика на международных встречах. Лучше него никто не мог переводить любые языковые комбинации между финским, русским, саамским, английским и шведским языками. Мы всегда будем тепло вспоминать Лейфа за упорное продвижение фундаментальных знаний в науке, одновременно уважая его постоянные старания возвращать эти знания тем людям, которых они больше всего касались, – саами. Никогда не заботясь о рейтингах журналов и стандартах, придуманных другими людьми, Лейф преследовал только одну цель: чтобы его работа приносила пользу другим людям. Иногда кому-то это казалось лишним упорством, но эта ясность и дисциплина в самостоятельной научной деятельности достойна большого уважения. Суви Кивела написала  в своем некрологе на фейсбуке, что на самом деле нет ответа на вопрос: «А кто сейчас?». Лейф был уникальным и незаменимым человеком, как исследователь и как личность. Кто бы, на самом деле, подумал, что еще в прошлом году в Оулу он посетил концерт группы «The Scorpions»? Мы искренне надеемся, что все коллеги, работающие с его материалами и в его области исследований, будут бережно хранить переданное им наследие. Покойся с миром, Лейф!

Несколько ссылок: статьи о Лейфе в википедии на английском и на финском языках, со списками его публикаций; статья на русском языке о последнем общественном проекте Лейфа, выставке экспонатов Кольских саами из его личной коллекции; статья о составленном и опубликованном Лейфом списке репрессированных саами; статья Лейфа «Из истории саамского общественно-политического движения в ХХ веке».

Флориан Штаммлер, перевод Лукаса Аллеманна и Катрины Григорьевой

Kola Sámi research and Arctic Anthropology lost a great friend

We are sad to spread the following news today: Leif Rantala, long time at the University of Lapland the grand old man of Sámi research, has passed away. From the very start of the anthropology team in Rovaniemi, he has been a benevolent, albeit quiet supporter, and joined with great interest some of our discussions. He has also been a great help with background information from his immense library and archive in his head, as well as in his office and home, for much of our work connected to the Sámi in Russia. Our ORHELIA oral history project would not have got a Sámi component in the proposal that was rich enough in background information without Leif’s help. Leif is less known to international Arctic anthropology, but very well in Arctic language studies, end even more so Finno-Ugric linguistics. Many of us will also remember him from his numerous roles as translator at international meetings. Who else could translate in all directions between Finnish-Russian-Sámi-English-Swedish in the way he could? For us in the team Leif will also be in warm memories for his firm orientation in fundamental advancement of knowledge on the one hand, and for making this knowledge always available for the people themselves. He did not care about citation indexes, scopus, web of sciences, credits etc. He wanted to make sure that his work is useful, and was not ready to compromise it according to some criteria made by somebody else. At times this may have seemed stubborn, but it was admirable in its crystal clear agenda and strict rigour. As Suvi Kivela wrote in her facebook obituary, there is no answer to any of the questions “who now?” Leif was unique as a scholar, and as a personality. Who for example would have guessed that he went to see the Scorpions’ last concert in Oulu in 2014? We sincerely hope that all the colleagues working with his materials in the future, and on his field sites, will keep Leif’s legacy alive. Leif, rest in peace!

Here is some more info on Leif from online in wikipedia (English), or the same in Finnish (both with list of works and publications), and from the Sápmi news service in Finland

New Article on Extractive Industries in Indigenous Areas in Canada and Sweden

New article “Effects of mining on reindeer/caribou populations and indigenous livelihoods: community-based monitoring by Sami reindeer herders in Sweden and First Nations in Canada” in The Polar Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2014, by Thora Martina Herrmann, Per Sandström, Karin Granqvist, Natalie D’Astous, Jonas Vannar, Hugo Asselin, Nadia Saganash, John Mameamskum, George Guanish, Jean-Baptiste Loon & Rick Cuciurean.

 RPOLcover 1..2Abstract:

This paper explores the effects of human disturbances associated with mine development in the Arctic on habitat and populations of reindeer/caribou (both Rangifer tarandus), and implications for reindeer husbandry and caribou hunting of indigenous Sami people in Sweden and First Nations in Canada. Through three case studies, we illustrate how Cree and Naskapi communities develop community-based geospatial information tools to collect field data on caribou migration and habitat changes, and how Sami reindeer herders use GIS to gather information about reindeer husbandry to better communicate impacts of mining on reindeer grazing areas. Findings indicate impacts on the use of disturbed habitat by reindeer/caribou, on migration routes, and northern livelihoods. The three cases present novel methods for community-based environmental monitoring, with applications in hazards mapping and denote the active engagement of indigenous communities in polar environmental assessments, generating community-oriented data for land use management decisions. They also illustrate how technology can lead to better communication and its role for empowerment.

Key words: mining, disturbance, reindeer, caribou, Sami, First Nations, community-based environmental monitoring, communication, local and landscape level.

Epilogue

In the case for the field of research in Sweden, the two Sami villages used an abstract of the article written by me – Karin Granqvist – and Per Sandström in their overruling of Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB’s application for concession license at Kallak. The County Administrative Board in the county of Norrbotten in Sweden, decided this October not to give JIMAB permission to exploit for ore at Kallak. JIMAB has now to overrule that decision to the Swedish Government if the company wants a concession license, but even so their application can be turned down.

DSC_0077 DSC_0078_20141208180645665

 

”Shamanism, Symbolism and Culture”

Shamanism, Symbolism and Culture. Role and function of art in the transmission of shama_intrance_kulan_20120609culture and cultural practices”

The University of Lapland’s Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland, is pleased to announce confirmation of a 2 day International Shamanism Seminar which will be held on 27th – 28th of November 2014. The key speaker is Mihaly Hoppal from Hungary who is the President of the International Institute for Shamanistic Research.

A list of the speakers and titles of their presentations as well as registration details can be found on the seminar website.

On behalf of The Staff at Arctic Centre, we welcome you to Lapland – Best wishes – Francis Joy.

Sacred Sites of Indigenous Peoples: conference and discussion

Several colleagues at Arctic Centre Rovaniemi teamed up with our partners from Inari from the Sámi educational centre to organise a workshop on sacred sites in the Arctic. This was the second in a series of meetings on the topic, the first one having been a conference last September in Pyhätunturi and Rovaniemi.

As participants and organisers reported, the meeting was remarkable, because this time it was mainly our indigenous partners who were active in the discussion. The format was also different from a conference, as there were very few formal presentations, and mostly active discussions. The participants came from at least 3 continents: Europe (Finland, Norway, Russia), Asia (Russia) and America (Canada).

One of the pressing questions discussed there was to what extent sacred places should be revealed to a broader public, or should they better be secret and known only to their active users? Proponents of conservation might say that “we need to know where they are in order to protect them”, whereas the other side might say “you won’t desacrate them unless you know them”. It is remarkable that this is up for discussion among our indigenous partners themselves, and there does not seem a one-fits-all solution.

A discussion here with comments could be very interesting.

Further more I wanted to share a related entry on a different blog, here. Author Evan Sparling thinks that the sacred sites are getting more and more under threat and need to be preserved better – something that was the main topic of the two meetings in Finland too. Especially Arctic Centre researcher Francis Joy presented evidence again for vandalism at sacred sites in northern Europe, much of which, however, may not come from bad intention but rather lack of knowledge among tourists.

I think the workshop in Inari went to the exactly right direction, in empowering people themselves to decide how much they want their places to be known by the rest of the world, and then also considering what this means for possible conservation activities.

ORHELIA’s trip to Lovozero

Last weekend our almost complete research team of the ORHELIA project (only Roza was unfortunately missing) went to Lovozero, the Sami ‘capital’ of Russian Lapland. It was probably my shortest field trip ever, with only one full day at our disposal and almost two entire days spent in a car. The main goal this time was not to gather as much information as possible but, on the opposite, to spread ORHELIA’s voice. It is the goal of our project to have such meetings in all our field sites. We already had one before in Sevettijärvi (Finland) and our next one will be in December in Naryan-Mar.

IMG_2077
The ORHELIA team just arrived to Lovozero.
Lovozero from its nice side
Lovozero from its nice side.

In Lovozero we organised an info meeting with local people from Lovozero, aiming to let them know about the goals of our project and what benefit it might bring to them as the beneficiary owners of the “raw material” we are working with. This meeting took place in the “Chum”, which is officially called “National Culture Centre” – with ‘national’ meaning ‘indigenous’, the latter being banned from official soviet terminology. Thanks to the organisational support of Valia Sovkina we could manage to gather quite a bit of people.

IMG_2341
Holding our presentation in the “National Culture Centre”.

In the first part of the meeting everybody shortly told about their field site. Our accounts were overarched by Florian’s presentation in which he outlined our comparative approach and the centre-periphery concept: Decisions about the Northern ‘peripheries’ are taken far away in administrative and political centres like Moscow or Helsinki. But is it so evident what is the periphery and what the centre? Doesn’t it depend on where one lives? Aren’t capital cities all too often little-knowing peripheries sending decisions to people’s lifestyle nuclei?

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Florian talking about centre-periphery perceptions.

The meeting was visually accompanied by slideshows and an exhibition of items from our different field sites. These visuals stimulated our discussions with many interested locals while having tea after the presentations.

The exhibition contained items from the Kola Peninsula, Yamal, Arkhangel'sk Region, Sakha and Finland
The exhibition contained items from the Kola Peninsula, Yamal, Arkhangel’sk Region, Sakha and Finland.
In the centre we see a reindeer herder's lasso
In the centre we see a reindeer herder’s lasso.
Our exhibition was sided by mock-up guns n' roses on the orange-black background of the  St. George's Ribbon, a widespread symbol of commemoration of World War II, the end of which was celebrated in Russia on 9th of May.
Our exhibition was sided by mock-up guns n’ roses on the orange-black background of the St. George’s Ribbon, a widespread symbol of commemoration of World War II, the end of which was celebrated in Russia on 9th of May.

For me, who is working with Russian Sami people, having my colleagues from the other field sites here in Lovozero was an important door-opener for my further work. Letting people know who we are and what we are doing creates trust and a feeling of shared interests. I have no doubt that this will reflect in future interviews. In the aftermath of the meeting several people expressed the wish to meet and share their stories with us.

Larisa Pavlovna Avdeeva showing old signatures used by Sami families in official documents before literacy became widespread.
Larisa Pavlovna Avdeeva showing old signatures used by Sami families in official documents before literacy became widespread.
Meeting again with Evdokim Alekseevich Galkin.
Meeting again with Evdokim Alekseevich Galkin.
Anastasiia Eliseevna Mozolevskaia shows her private archive containing materials even from pre-revolutionary times.
Anastasiia Eliseevna Mozolevskaia shows her private archive containing materials even from pre-revolutionary times.

Without any doubt, our most popular team member in Lovozero became Nuccio. While we all could communicate in Russian, Nuccio had a most unexpected common language ready for use: North Sami. A Sicilian in Russia who speaks North Sami with the locals. What an exceptional combination!

Nuccio together with Mariia Alekseevna Popova who originates from the siida Voron'e, which has been flooded due to a dam construction in 1967,
Nuccio together with Mariia Alekseevna Popova who originates from the siida Voron’e, which has been flooded due to a dam construction in 1967.

While Nuccio speaking Sami enchanted our audience, there is another remarkable fact making possible this unexpected way of communicating: North Sami, a language originally not used in Eastern Sapmi, in the past twenty years has become the second most spoken Sami dialect there, behind Kil’din Sami, but with much more speakers than the other dialects of Eastern Sapmi (see Scheller 2013, 409 f.) due to intense cooperation programmes especially with Norway. This example has shown in a nice way that North Sami has become a lingua franca in transnational Sami contacts.

Ekaterina Nikolaevna Korkina (left) took us to a spontaneous visit to her best friend Anna Efimovna Novokhat'ko.
Ekaterina Nikolaevna Korkina (left) took us to a spontaneous visit to her best friend Anna Efimovna Novokhat’ko.
A lively garage discussion
A lively garage discussion.
Having some fun with Yuri Dorzdovskii, a 'vezdekhodchik' ('all-terrain-vehicle-man') who regularly supplies the reindeer brigades and villages without road connection.
Having some fun with Yuri Drozdovskii, a vezdekhodchik (‘all-terrain-vehicle-man’) who regularly supplies reindeer brigades and villages without road connection.

Generally speaking, everybody of our team was overwhelmed by the openness and the interest of the attending people, regardless to the fact that Lovozero can be designated without any doubt as ‘over-researched’ in the past twenty years. We take this as a very encouraging feedback on our project. Thank you, Lovozerians!

Report from two workshops at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Helsinki

“Permafrost Dynamics and Indigenous Land Use” was the title of a two-day workshop at the Arctic Science Summit Week in Helsinki – which is still ongoing at the time of writing this post (5-11 April 2014). Organised by Joachim Otto Habeck and Hiroki Takakura, the workshop brought together scholars from different disciplines (from geosciences to cultural anthropology) to discuss changes in the unique landscape and land use in the Central Yakutian Lowlands. Discussions were truly interdisciplinary, and fascinating from my point of view, tackling complexities in understanding the dimension of this specific landscape that is subject to many influences. Conversations focused on the interaction between natural processes in the formation of a thermokarst landscape, global climatic changes and local changes in cattle farming. Traditional forms of cattle farming have undergone transformations during the Soviet era, inducing lasting changes on the social organisation of for instance hay making in the grasslands of the alaas landscape. In addition, modern lifestyles and state subsidies are playing an important role in the local economy today, raising the question in which direction future land use will develop.

Further meetings are planned to foster cooperation on the theme. In case of interest, please get in touch with the conveners of the workshop (Joachim Otto Habeck, Max-Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, and soon University of Hamburg, Germany; Hiroki Takakura, Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohuku University, Sendai, Japan).

Another workshop, organised by the Nordic branch of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists aimed at “Connecting Early Career Researchers and Community Driven Research in the North”. In her keynote, Gail Fondahl (University of BC) emphasised the possibility of involving members of indigenous communities in the co-management of projects. “Such an approach acknowledges that local communities can best identify their problems and prioritize their needs, that local knowledge and local resources can inform solutions to these problems, and that collaborative research can contribute to developing community capacity and thus help to empower communities.” (Fondahl et al. 2009, Co-Managing Research: Building and Sustaining a First Nation – University Partnership, UNBC). Arja Rautio (University of Oulu) explained how important this kind of collaboration is in health research where studies as well as new policies and schemes can only be devised successfully if they are relevant to the target community. Heidi Eriksen (Utsjoki Health Centre) raised attention to the fact that scientific (and in her example: medical) studies on indigenous peoples have been highly exploitative in the past, with little benefits for the researched communities themselves. Past injustices have to be acknowledged in current research and health care services.

Heidi Eriksen at the APECS workshop in Helsinki 8 April 2014
Equality? Heidi Eriksen at the APECS workshop in Helsinki 8 April 2014

Anna Afanasyeva (International Barents Secretariat), gave insights into her research on the relocation of Sámi of the Kola peninsula between 1930 and 1970, as well as her work in the project DOBES that aims at recording Sámi languages, especially of those which have only few native speakers left. Regarding the theme of the workshop, Anna told how she as an indigenous Sámi from a relocated family has been trying to methodically distance herself from her community to gain a “view from outside”, while researchers from outside the community have been trying to achieve “the view from within” – and how she has been discussing these experiences with fellow researchers.

Sámi Contemporary – an exhibition at the local art museum Korundi in Rovaniemi

Sámi Contemporary hosts the art work of 20 Sámi artists. The exhibition opened yesterday with a day-long seminar, and started with an introduction by Hanna Horsberg Hansen on “traditions in transitions”, where she discussed different approaches to understanding contemporary Sámi art. Rather than insisting on a pure historical perspective – i.e. analysing traditions as they have been shaped in the past, and comparing those moments of history with current observations – she argued for a concept that explores how tradition is made in the contemporary. An approach that seems to accommodate Sámi concepts of time much better and which relates to the Maori saying: The past is never behind, it is always in front of a person. Following Hansen’s lecture, Sámi artists gave presentations introducing their work, and telling about their motivation and ideas.

Sámi contemporary

Ailu Valle introduced the lyrics of his rap music, which he later performed at the official opening of the exhibition (see the video on facebook). He explained how he had started imitating American rappers before finding a liking in rapping in Finnish and finally in Northern Sámi, which is “the language of my deepest thoughts”, but which he considered impossible to combine with rap music at first. Marita Isobel Solberg, a performance artist, visual artist and musician, introduced her work which has taken her around the world, for instance, to places in Japan, the United States and Sicily. Synnøve Persen, Markku Laakso and Annika Dahlsten, and Liselotte Wajstedt continued with presentations of their art work.

The exhibition is open until 25 May 2014, and is accompanied by a series of lectures (usually on Mondays at 6pm) thematically related to the exhibition.

If you happen to be around, don’t miss it!

Hannah Strauss-Mazzullo