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.
About the intrigues around this year’s celebration and why they reminded me of one of the darkest chapters of Sámi history.
For this year’s Sámi National Day I happened to be in Murmansk and I witnessed the celebrations, which were preceded by some red hot intrigues.
The day traditionally starts with the raising of the Sámi flag. In Murmansk this year this happened at three different places. First at the Norwegian Consulate, then at the Centre for Indigenous Peoples, and finally near the Seamen’s house. Though the official flying of the flag was, for this purpose, sanctioned by the Russian authorities even in two places, both locations were in side streets with almost no people around. How come? Well, the vacant flag pole near the Russian flag pole at the so-called White House, the Murmansk Region’s Government building (which in fact is yellow) and the most representative place downtown, had to be urgently removed shortly before the celebrations. Why? Because it happened to be unstable and thus represented a threat to the security of passers-by. So the administration kindly offered to the Sámi community the two alternative settings, both located in far less busy places where public attention (and therefore the risk of injury by falling flag poles, too) would be minimal.
Among the organisers of the Sámi Day celebrations nobody believes the story of the unstable flag pole, although they acclaim the officials for their creativity. And many argue: Isn’t it rather another “threat” which seems to motivate the Region’s administration? A nation of 1599 people (according to the 2010 census) raising their flag near a symbol of Russian state power seems to be something very frightening to some. The question of where to raise the flag had been in fact an issue in the regional parliament even before they noticed the shaky flag pole. In a discussion one member of the dominating Edinaia Rossiia party said that one should not allow such things because once one minority has been granted the right to make the colours, all the other minorities might follow and claim their right to raise their flags too. This seems to be an inacceptable scenario to the ruling power of the multi-ethnic state of Russia.
It is definitely realistic that fears of separatism, although not (yet) explicitly uttered, can be exploited in the politics of local government members. The case of alleged Pomor separatism isn’t closed yet, and to incriminate the Russian Sámi for having strong ties to their co-brothers and allies abroad might be even easier than in the case of the Pomors. Moreover, the eager search for hints of separatism, even the most inconspicuous ones, has a long-lasting tradition. If we go further back in history, the situation with the flag pole reminds me of the ridiculously irrational “Sámi complot” during the Stalin Era. In 1938 the NKVD fabricated the so-called Sámi nationalist counterrevolutionary conspiracy. In the setting of the orchestrated class struggle, which had to take place even in the remotest corners of the country, a group of people had been “uncovered” while allegedly preparing an uprising in order to create a “Lappish Republic” which should become a part of Finland. Its leader became Vasilii Kondrat’evich Alymov, who was not a Sámi. He was a scholar from Leningrad who, in earlier years, had been living among the Sámi and in Murmansk collecting materials for a Sámi dictionary. Being an intellectual with strong ties to the local indigenous population and yet an outsider, and having served for the Mensheviks, he proved to be the ideal figure of an inciter. The whole inquiries of case No. 46197 lasted for a very short period: from 27 February till 7 April 1938. As a result, 34 people, mostly Sámi, were arrested. Among these, 15 were shot and 13 sentenced to long labour camp terms. All of the convicts had compromised themselves by totally picayune deeds or life events which dated far back, like serving in the tsarist army. A detailed account of these events has been written by Aleksei Kiselev, one of the most famous local historians.
Allowing to raise the Sámi flag near a main symbol of state power (as it happened on the territory of the Norwegian consulate) would have been a nice sign of respect and reconciliation towards the local indigenous population, which had to suffer a great loss of ethnic identity as well as life and material losses during Soviet times. The chance has been missed.
The “retaliation measures” by the Sámi activists have been astonishingly peaceful and colourful: The flashmob, which had been organised using the social media, had the aim to create a “living” Sámi flag. They preferred not to act illegally and stay at the officially sanctioned place near the Seamen’s house, and therefore the location and the attention by passers-by were not really great. The circle in the flag, unfortunately, didn’t work out too, but the idea was positive and beautiful. It was in the (at least Eastern) Sámi-like spirit of a soft and peaceful resistance.
Narratives, bureaucracies and indigenous legal orders: Resource governance in Finnish Lapland is the title of our chapter in a volume titled “Polar Geopolitics? Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes”, which has been published end of January. The aim of our chapter is twofold: Firstly, to examine narratives of indigeneity and secondly to investigate how these are tied into struggles over natural resources. Especially the narrative of indigenous peoples being the “original ecologists” seems to open up opportunities for claim-making by indigenous groups, but on the other hand also allows for patronising approaches to resource management in indigenous homeland. The specific example we then look at is the conflict over forest resources in Finnish Upper Lapland, and in particular the Nellim conflict. In the following, we discuss how state bureaucracies sometimes contradict local management regimes, which, in the case of Upper Lapland, are still based on indigenous legal order. To illustrate this contradiction, we juxtapose reindeer herding principles of the Finnish state and of the indigenous Sàmi population adhering to the notion of “reindeer luck”.
Together with the chapters by Lassi Heininen, Jeppe Strandsbjerg and Mark Nuttall our text forms Part III, “Indigenous and Northern Geopolitics”. Part I of this volume focuses on “Global and Regional Frameworks” and part II engages with “National Visions”. Follow the link below and check out the excellent contributions to this book, edited by Richard C Powell and Klaus Dodds, and published by Edward Elgar.
Foreign, as well as Swedish based mining companies, prospect and exploit – as in drilling – for stones and minerals like never before in Sweden. The country is in at least the local newspapers presented as a Klondike, full of treasures just waiting to be ‘picked up’.
Abandoned and Closed Mines in Sweden – a Neglected Problem?
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. Continue reading “New publication: Nomadic and Indigenous Spaces. Productions and Cognitions”→
Some Testimonies About Forced Anti-Alcoholism Measures Among Saami People in the Soviet Union
In one of my first encounters with an elder Saami on the Kola Peninsula (Russia) about five years ago I was told about an institution with the weird name Prophylactic Medical Labour Camp (russ. lechebno-trudovoi profilaktorii, or just LTP). What I was told about it was short but impressive, and can be summarised as follows: Heavy drinkers could be sent to an LTP for up to one and a half years where they would undergo a compulsory therapy which consisted of mysterious tablets and heavy physical work. In fact, this was an imprisonment without a criminal lawsuit. In terms of law, it was a purely administrative measure. The system of the LTPs was created in the end of the 1960s, and very soon all of the Soviet Union was covered with a network of such institutions. In Russia it was abolished in 1994 due to unconstitutionality, and nowadays the only post-soviet countries which have kept the system of the LTPs are – how symptomatic! – Belarus and Turkmenistan.
As a part of our advanced course on the anthropological study of resources in the North we screen a rare film tomorrow
Thursday, 18 April at 16:30 in the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi, in the POLARIUM room.
Kultajoki – Gold River is a careful portrait of several individual characters who found their dedication in small scale private gold washing in Finnish Lapland. Most of the mining publicity is usually about big projects, multinational companies and enourmous social and environmental impacts. But in fact worldwide there is also a lot of small scale resource development. I remember that from earlier anthropological talks about gold diggers in West Africa , and of course Julie Cruikshank’s formidable work on the Klondike Gold Rush narratives, which is chapter four in “The Social Life of Stories” .
The film Kultajoki has not unlike Julie’s work a life history approach for exploring the relations of particular people to gold and the river, as resources in northern Finland. We find out how the relation between people and their environment among small scale gold washers is so intimate that the resource and its occurance in nature determines not only a particular way of life and engaging with the environment, but also shapes these people’s personalities profoundly. The film was shot during long term field trips with the main
characters on a zero-budget basis, and therefore does not have to conform to the usual commercial cinema or TV adventure requirements that media companies nowadays have. Everybody is welcome to joint if you happen to be in or want to come to Rovaniemi at that time. Bernd Bartusevics, the director of the film, will be present himself and be happy to answer your questions as well.
On the 17th of August Roza Laptander and Stephan Dudeck drove the 330km to Inari and where surprised how many familiar faces they recognized in the audience and among the speakers. Stephan ran into Dina Vasilievna Gerasimova, who appeared to celebrate her 70th birthday that very day. And we met Dmitry Ottovich Khorolya and delivered Florian’s greetings.
It would be tiresome to name here all the VIPs from Russian and Fennoscandian institutions dealing with traditional knowledge and reindeer herding and most of the papers contained well-known statements about the importance of safeguarding traditional knowledge for the future of reindeer husbandry. Of course we were proud that the director of the Arctic Centre Paula Kankaanpää mentioned prominently the work of the ORHELIA project as one of the activities of our institute to research and maintain indigenous knowledge in the Arctic.
It is of course a riddle how all these non-traditional institutions, bureaucrats, and highly educated people could contribute to the transmission of knowledge that is so highly rooted in everyday practices, nonverbal communication and rural livelihoods. But there were some examples that could give an idea that it’s possible that scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge can be mutual supportive. One example was the educational initiative of language nests, where preschool children learned again the almost abandoned Inari-Sámi language, which led to a real language revival. Vladislav Peskov from the Association of Nenets People , mentioned that it became nowadays a must that scientific research on traditional knowledge returns the collected materials and the results to the communities where it stems from. This should happen in a form that people could understand and use the materials provided by scientist for their community purposes.
But one unusual story stacked in our minds and we were discussing it on the way back. It was a fable told by Rodion Sulyanziga from the Association of Indigenous people RAIPON. When he once asked an old man about the past and the knowledge of the ancestors, he got the answer that he can tell him only one story about a cat that took a little tiger to nurture. One day when the tiger was full-grown he just wanted to strike away the small cat with his paw. But the cat jumped on a tree and told him: “You know, I taught you everything except for one thing: how to climb on a tree!”
After the conference we “kidnapped” Galina Platova from Yasavey and Galina Nazarova, the director of the Naryan Mar college for humanities, to Rovaniemi to discuss in detail a project to publish oral history materials and make them available for the people in the regions we are working in. Our dream is to have once a website where people can listen to the stories of the elders and learn something about the history of different places and indigenous communities from Finnish Lapland to the Yamal peninsula. Of course we will let you know more about it as soon as we decided how to finance and organize the work.
Stephan Dudeck visited Terhi Vuojala-Magga in the Inari region of Finnish Sápmi (Sámi home area) two times during this year. The first visit was in January in Kuttura – a Sami reindeer herders´ forest village of six houses in the upper stream of Ivalo River – and the second visit was at the beginning of April, both in Ivalo and Kuttura.
I met Stephan for the first time last autumn at Arctic Centre when I was talking about my work in MISTRA project of The Arctic Lessons for Sweden. During our discussions we decided that Stephan will come to visit me in the Far North.
During his first visit we had some interesting talks about anthropology and we did some polar night ice fishing of burbot with a spring hook fish trap. It was rather cold, but still Stephan wanted to test his clothing for his journey to the Nenets region in Russia and he did stay on ice doing some ice-fishing too. I noticed that he is not afraid of being in the cold.
Stephans’s second visit was in the middle of the best spring time here in the north. It was on occasion of the conference “Tales from the North” in the new build Sajos building in Ivalo, which also hosts the Sámi Parliament. Our main motivation to go there was the marvelous and inspiring presentation of Prof. Tim Ingold from Aberdeen. Afterwards we had a nice dinner at home in Ivalo with him and his wife Anna Ingold. Afterwards we socialized with the locals in our local pub with dance and karaoke. Though Stephan did not sing any karaoke songs, even we all wanted to hear it, he did learn to dance Finnish tango. And he did this so well that people liked it (as I heard about it afterwards). I myself learned to drink wine instead of beer or koskenkorva (Vodka). On Saturday we took part in an ice fishing competition in Riutula together with my friends. The competition was a success in the nice warm sunshine and we all got some fish though not enough to win the competition.
Once back in Kuttura, which was Stephan’s second visit to this forest village, we dived into intensive discussions about anthropology, places and people. We were talking about intimacy and privacy – in two ways. I was able to understand what it means when an anthropologist lives with the people – as Stephan did in my home (though I’m an anthropologist too).
However, this is not a one sided issue. Anthropologists have their own privacy and intimacy too. In both ways there are options and limits and I suppose these dimensions have to be found out each time once people meet. It’s a question how much you reveal of yourself and how much people learn to trust you.
The second discussion was about our emotions and sensitivity – a quite important topic. We agreed that most people here are very sensitive; we share the quietness – that is very common for northerners. It means that the tacit communication in the environment with the people or even in absence of the people has meanings and messages. An important point during our discussions was: never louse your sense of humor – whatever happens we should not stop to laugh at ourselves.
In short we learned that the eyes can see until there is nothing to see, and the ears can hear even there is nothing to listen to, and we can understand when we cease to understand at all.