Real and imagined places

This is my abstract for the annual congress of the International society for ethnology and folklore (SIEF) in Lisbon in April.

The theme for this year’s congress is People make places and my paper will be presented at the panel Performing identity and preserving heritage in real and imagined places.

 

Real and imagined places in Sámi identity discourse on Internet

This paper investigates the production of space in digital environments with focus on Sámi identity discourse. For this indigenous people of Fenno-Scandinavia, geographical origin in terms of roots and landscape is a recurrent topic in the ongoing processes of linguistic and cultural revitalization.

The creation and expression of Sámi identity and traditions in relation to the production of a common cultural heritage can be observed in digital folklore. Digital environments are local and global places, i.e. regional and transnational at one and the same time. Since the 90s, the situation for the Sámi has taken a turn for the better not only as a result of political action, but also through a change of attitudes toward minorities. This comes to expression in Sámi identity discourse in digitally born expressive culture.

Sápmi (Sámiland) has gained importance in the politics of cultural heritage in Fenno-Scandinavia. Sápmi is not a defined territory, and the lack of consensus about its historical boundaries causes still today conflicts regarding land rights. However, we find a recurrent and homogeneous representation of Sápmi in digital environments. Based in contemporary examples, this paper investigates the meaning of place as a mindscape, an experiencescape or a landscape.

Further, it investigates the role of folklore on Internet in the ongoing processes of linguistic and cultural revitalization. Also, this study brings to discussion challenges and possibilities to articulate difference without exoticization, or heterogeneity without non-cohesiveness.

 

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