Folklore as political tool and ideological weapon

I have completed an article entitled « Savoirs traditionnels et Traditions de recherche. Le folklore comme instrument politique et arme idéologique » (Traditional knowledge and research traditions: folklore as a political tool and ideological weapon) to be published in L’image du Sápmi 2, edited by Kajsa Andersson, Örebro University. The book is a collection of contributions in French and English by scholars from diverse fields such as literature, archeology, linguistics, anthropology etc.

Very few publications about sámi research have been published in French. What can be found is principally the result of work done in the 70s. A lot has happened as regards both the situation in Sápmi and in sámi research, which makes these sources problematic. Last year, when helping a colleague putting together a list of readings for a master course at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, I realized how little the students could access about sámi culture in their language – and that most of it was out of date. Therefore, although my academic writing in French is both poor and painful, I decided to make an effort to improve the situation.

My contribution in L’image du Sápmi 2 is a critical historical approach on sámi research. It provides a historical overview of examples where sámi traditional knowledge and folklore were in the service of philology, lappology and other research traditions, as a political tool and an ideological weapon.

Today, we have access to ethnographic descriptions published in other political contexts and it is necessary to redefine their position and value for contemporary research. A critical look at the history of research traditions demonstrates how folklore and traditional knowledge were used in order to establish an authority or for political purposes. Thus, my article calls for a reflexive vigilance about the origins of research about minorities in general and the Sámi in particular.

The book is to be published at the beginning of next year.

For the first volume published in 2009,
I wrote an article about the storyteller and writer Johan Turi.


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