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New perspectives on Sami history and cultural heritage


- Sami history and cultural heritage are amazingly unknown, even within the academy, says Pia Lundqvist, senior lecturer in history at the Department of Historical Studies and organizer on why Sami cultural heritage became theme on this year's cultural heritage day.
In co-operation with CCHS, Center for Critical Heritage Studies, on May 2, the cultural heritage day was arranged with Sami cultural heritage as a theme. The cultural heritage day has for several years been a counterpart to the Archaeological Day and the History Day, which is also usually arranged at the department.

- The day will be a gathering arrangement for our students on the three-year Bachelor's program Cultural Heritage Studies (KAS) and will be an opportunity to delve into cultural heritage issues, which one does not get space to do in the usual curriculum. Sápmi's history is part of Sweden's history, which is often neglected in teaching, says Pia Lundqvist.
Several new questions came up during the day such as: why there are more Sami drums in museums out in Europe than in Sápmi? Who is entitled to the cultural heritage? How is it that historians and archaeologists play an important role as expert witnesses in contemporary legal processes concerning, for example, land rights and mining exploitation?

New research highlights old cultural heritage

In an attempt to answer these questions, a number of profiled researchers and artists held lectures during the day and new knowledge was shared. Carl-Gösta Ojala, researcher in archaeology at Uppsala University lectured on archaeological research in Sápmi and Johannes Marainen historian in the Sameföreningen in Gothenburg talked about relocations of the Sami. Artist Britta Marakatt Labba showed how Sámi mythology takes place in art, and archaeologist Jonas Monié Nordin lectured on how early modern globalization of Sami culture developed.

Among other things, new research was lifted on the fact that the Sami spread far further south in the early modern Sweden than most people imagine. For example, Sami objects were collected as something exotic by the upper classes already in the 17th century, while there were Sami who lived and worked in Stockholm during the same time. Important issues concerning, among other things, what Sami cultural heritage really is, how it can be supported, and which exchanges researchers and representatives of Sami rights can have with each other was also highlighted.

- By highlighting Sami cultural heritage specifically, the students discover that the issues raised in the teaching are also issues that are discussed among academic researchers, in the cultural heritage sector and in the social debate, says Pia Lundqvist. Particularly the personal stories about the experience of growing up as Sami in Sweden during the 1940s and 50s seems to have made an impression on the visitors according to Pia Lundqvist. The students also highlighted several other things as particularly rewarding, such as the story of Sami mythology, the role of Sami objects played in the majority society and the panel debate.

Photo: Britta Marakatt Labba and Johannes Marainen. Crowd outside the lecture hall.