Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North

New Book!

The book I co-authored with my UW colleague Thomas DuBois is now out. Thanks to everyone who participated through conversations and interviews and contributed with feedback and comments!


Digital media–GIFs, films, TED Talks, tweets, and more–have become integral to daily life and, unsurprisingly, to Indigenous people’s strategies for addressing the historical and ongoing effects of colonization. In Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North, Thomas DuBois and Coppélie Cocq examine how Sámi people of Norway, Finland, and Sweden use media to advance a social, cultural, and political agenda anchored in notions of cultural continuity and self-determination. Beginning in the 1970s, Sámi have used Sámi-language media—including commercially produced musical recordings, feature and documentary films, books of literature and poetry, and magazines—to communicate a sense of identity both within the Sámi community and within broader Nordic and international arenas.

In more contemporary contexts—from YouTube music videos that combine rock and joik (a traditional Sámi musical genre) to Twitter hashtags that publicize protests against mining projects in Sámi lands—Sámi activists, artists, and cultural workers have used the media to undo layers of ignorance surrounding Sámi livelihoods and rights to self-determination. Downloadable songs, music festivals, films, videos, social media posts, images, and tweets are just some of the diverse media through which Sámi activists transform how Nordic majority populations view and understand Sámi minority communities and, more globally, how modern states regard and treat Indigenous populations.

It is available at the University of Washington Press.

Critical heritage studies and Indigenous research

Next week, I will participate to the International Symposium No such thing as heritage?, an event that invites professionals to critically reflect on the social constructedness of heritage.

I am honoured to be one of the invited speakers (see Programme) and I will contribute with a presentation providing An Indigenous Digital Humanities Perspective on the Production of Cultural Heritage, in which I propose to examine the production of the digital cultural record and what values and forms of knowledge are embedded in the methodologies behind the process of producing and sharing Indigenous cultural heritage.

Indigenous Digital Research

One example of inspiring Indigenous scholar in the field of digital research is Bronwyn Carlson, Macquarie University. She recently gave a keynote at the #AoIR2019, the annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researcher. The talk, entitled Indigenous Internet users: Learning to trust ourselves can be enjoyed here.

She has done extensive work in digital media use by Indigenous communities, published on the risks and consequences of exposure (racism, violence), and on the potential of those media for support and for the visibility of Indigenous groups (among other things). Her keynote gives examples based on her previous research and discusses the issue of trust online.

The Where, How and Who of Digital Ethnography

The Folklore Fellow Network has published my text on Digital Ethnography in the latest FFN Communications (online and open access).

As a trained ethnologist and folklorist, I have “always” used ethnographical methods. Since over a decade, I have applied – and redefined and developed – approaches, principles and ethical perspectives on the study of various digital environments and digital practices.

This (short) text is inspired by my experiences and dialogues with students when teaching digital ethnography at master and doctoral levels. I have noticed an increasing need and interest for this topic and I am therefore planning additional publications on DE.

Ethics in digital and Indigenous research

The Association of Internet Researchers has now officially published the IRE 3.0, the updated guidelines for digital research ethics. 

This third version of guidelines for ethical decision-making in internet research is extensive and comprehensive. Scholars in Indigenous and minority research will particularly appreciate how specific attention to minorities is taken into account, and how aspects such as conceptions of selfhood, the importance of ethical pluralism and of cross-cultural awareness are emphasized. 

The web presence of Indigenous research

My participation to the Tromsø-based project The Societal Dimensions of Sámi Research (see my earlier post) continues. I am finalising an article that investigates how scholars in Sámi research relate to the development of Indigenous research and, at the same time, to an increasing demand on transparency and visibility on social media.

Recently, the project group met in Inari for a symposium, a workshop focused on our articles, and further planning. The contributions look promising and, as we are approaching the end of the project period, we can look forward valuable publications.

Linguistic Landscape Studies: Sharing knowledge and solving problems

Northern Linguistic Landscapes: Visual(izing) languages in the North(NoLL) is a newly established network of researchers with a special interest in the study of Linguistic Landscapes. The research group is part of the Humlab focus area on visualization at the Faculty of Humanities at Umeå University. 

Our research group will organise a workshop around the theme of Linguistic Landscapes, with focus on crowdsourcing and methods in interpretation of pictures. The workshop will take place at Humlab at Umeå University, 23-24 October.

Program (see here for updates)

Wednesday 23 October  

9.15 – 9.30 Welcome (and coffee) 

9.30 – 10.00 Jackie Lou, Birkbeck, University of London [NB! Cancelled!]

“It all comes down to space”: Increasing the visibility of linguistic diversity in an international school

10.00 – 10.30 Daniel Andersson, Umeå University

The Settler Colonial Linguistic Landscapes of Northern Sweden

10.30 – 12.00 Andreas Nuottaniemi, David Kroik, Ronia Anacoura  

Three PhD-projects about linguistic landscapes at Umeå University


13.15-14.30 Christoph Purschke, University of Luxembourg

Mobile crowdsourcing in the humanities. Experiences from two participatory projects in Luxembourg (Humlab Talk)

15-16.30 Workshop about crowdsourcing, Christoph Purschke & Coppélie Cocq 

Readings as a basis for discussion will be shared with the participants prior to the event. 

Thursday 24 October

9.00 -9.30 Väinö Syrjälä, Södertörn University

Perspectives on the linguistic landscapes of bilingual Finland

9.30 -10.00 Johan Järlehed, University of Gothenburg   

“World-class” segregation, or entrepreneurial place-making in Nya Hovås

10 – 10.30 Coffee

10.30 – 11.00 Urban Lindgren, Umeå University & Coppélie Cocq, University of Helsinki

Linguistic landscapes in sparsely populated areas of northern Sweden

11-11.30 Lena Granstedt & Eva Lindgren, Umeå University

Making sense of the linguistic landscape: coding and analysis


13.15 – 15.15 Workshop: analysis of photographs, Tommaso Milani, University of Gothenburg/Umeå University 

The participants are encouraged to share photos from their LL fieldworks prior to the workshop, particularly challenging photos in terms of classification, identification of genre or language etc.  

15.30-16.00 Concluding discussion 

Discussants: Tommaso Milani, University of Gothenburg/Umeå University & Eva Lindgren, Umeå University 

Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency

We are now finalizing the manuscript for our book Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North (to be published at the University of Washington Press).

My chapters in the book focus on digital media and are based on research conducted the last few years about media usage in Sápmi, with valuable contributions by producers and users of Sámi digital media through conversations, interviews and more; while my co-author and colleague Tom Dubois writes about other media forms such as film and music.

The book should be out in January 2020. Keep an eye for new posts about updates and release!

Inaugural lecture

The inauguration of the new professors at the University of Helsinki will take place on Wednesday (May 29th). At his occasion, I will give a public lecture. Everyone welcome to join there or online!

Social media: Public Spaces or Filter Bubbles?

On Thursday May 2d, I will participate to the Digital Humanities Research Seminar of the university of Helsinki and present part of my book project on Sámi media. Based on examples of social media use in Sápmi, I will discuss to what extent social media are public spaces, and what role they might play in creating filter bubbles (among other things).

This talk is based on a book chapter. The publication itself should be out by the end of the year.