Monthly Archives: June 2012

Production and transmission of indigenous knowledge

The Swedish Research Council FORMAS has given grants for 10 projects in Sami research. It is the first time that a national Swedish research institute advertises a specific call for applications in Sami research  – a highly needed and welcome effort!

My enthusiasm is even greater since I am involved in one of the funded projects, “Production and transmission of indigenous knowledge: Oral and mediated strategies to express Sámi identities”, with my colleagues from Umeå University Marianne Liliequist, Marica Nordström and Krister Stoor.

Here follows a short summary of the project:

This project investigates strategies developed by Sámi communities to ensure the transmission of cultural specific knowledge. Four case studies examine more specifically how Sámi groups have elaborated modes of communication (1) between generations, (2) between herders and landowners, (3) as it takes place on the Internet and (4) through popular music. Focus lies on narrativity as a vehicle for shaping and conveying knowledge and for the articulation of identities.
The project combines a folkloristic approach and narrative analysis of data collected through in-depth interviews and participant observations, focusing on the artistic and communicative aspects of storytelling.
It contributes to the understanding of indigenous initiatives from an emic perspective. By examining successful strategies for the improvement of cultural understanding, this project will present models of significance not only for the Sámi of Scandinavia but also for minority groups in other contexts.

My contribution (3) is concerned with the Internet and production/transmission of knowledge.

Traditions as selected pasts

Next week, I’ll participate to the 32nd Nordic conference of Ethnology and Folkloristics in Bergen, Norway.

My paper Traditions as selected pasts investigates the use of the concept of ”tradition” in Sámi digital environments and as a label of practices within Sámi revitalization processes. The recurrence and abundance of the occurrence of the term in Sámi websites motivates my investigation, encouraged by the strong theoretical attachment of the concept in folkloristics (cf Noyes 2009, Bronner 2011).

Based on the study of Sámi produced websites, this paper examines how Sámi expressive culture online emphasizes the continuity of cultural aspects and particular aspects of the past in traditional settings in negotiation with the emergence of new practices and meanings. Folklore on the Internet is approached as hybrid practice, i.e. in relation and interplay with offline practices (cf Howard 2005). This study considers the processes behind what Jones calls the “symbolic construction of the past in the present for the future” (2000:116), achieved in this case by the selection and (re)creation of the past in the contemporary Sámi context of revitalization. The labeling of practices as traditional underscores continuity and articulates a historical past that legitimates discourses about identity and nationalism. Thus, this paper critically analyzes the implications and consequences of the uses of the concept of tradition.

My  presentation is part of a panel entitled History culture and selected past. I look forward to interesting papers and discussions!