Here is a suggestion about a useful website if you are interested in indigenous research and digital technology! The Ethnos Project is a research portal and resource database that explores indigenous uses of information and communication technologies.
Based on the principles of Participation, Ownership, Ideology, Sustainability and Attention, the site compiles resources and articles about the uses and effects of ICT in indigenous contexts.
And I have published a blog post on the site 😉
My interest for storytelling in digital environments has been piqued by a smartphone application based on a traditional Norwegian folktale collected and made famous by Asbjørnsen and Moe.
”The Ashlad and the Hungry Troll” is an app in English, presented as a book composed of pictures and text, along with a narrator voice.
On the site iPhone App World, a reviewer describes the story as ” probably one of the scariest and violent children’s book I have ever came across in my life”. In another review of the app, we can read that “people used to think it was a good idea to scare the crap out of small children” and how inappropriate it is in our days.
The story illustrated in the app in about a troll defeated by a smart young boy in a contest about their strength, including squeezing water from a stone and eating enormous quantities of porridge (AT 1060-1114; see the Aarne-Thompson index of folktales). Similar stories can be found in Sámi narratives about Stállu being defeating by a young Sámi man.
How and when did this traditional tale become incorrect for children?
Is it an issue of adaptation? The dark monotone voice of an unknown man reading loud the cruel details of the competition between the boy and the troll enhances a situation quite different from oral storytelling where a narrator would adapt the pitch and tone in his voice to the audience.
Is it an issue of consumption? The app is designed in such a way that kids can ”read” it by themselves, i.e. look at the pictures and listen to the narrator. Here again, the settings are very different than when storytelling was shared in a family or a group.
Is it an issue of shift of perspective on childhood? Our modern western perspective on children has certainly changed since the early 1800s, when Asbjørnsen and Moe’s stories were collected.
Is it an issue of globalization, now that stories for Norwegian kids are to be shared by English speaking children around the world? Education and upbringing might differ to some extent between cultural contexts, but still, it would be exaggerated to assert that Norwegian kids are less sensitive to violence than for instance American kids.
All these issues can together (partly) explain these contemporary reactions to the traditional folktale of The Ashlad and the Hungry Troll. But also, we should keep in mind that our perception of tales as something for children is also different from the context in which the folktales where originally told, and later published in books. Storytelling used to be an act that involved family and/or community members from different generations. It was often a social activity that would create an atmosphere where many topics could be narrated.
This app is only one of many examples that highlight the difficulty of adaptation of storytelling. Changes are necessary in order to match the expectations and conditions of our contemporary contexts. Look at Stállu for instance: when the first Sámi author Johan Turi writes about him in 1910, Stállu is cruel, vulgar and dies in the most brutal and sometimes obscene manner. In more recent adaptation in children books, he is more pitiful than scary, and the story often ends by his unclear disappearance…
Jag har tidigare publicerat några inlägg om datainsamlingen, nu mer om upplägget och analysen.
Jag studerar materialet utifrån tre aspekter, som behandlas i vars sin artikel (givetvis överlappar de varandra!).
Den första fokuserar på ”plats” som begrepp och konstruktion. Frågor som berörs är hur platsen ”sápmi” produceras och materialiseras i digitala miljöer, förhållandet mellan geografiska platser och platser i virtuella miljöer, samt konsekvenser och implikationer av det digitala sápmi på föreställningar och förväntningar. Ett första utkast kommer att presenteras vid en konferens i april, se abstrakt nedan.
Den andra artikeln kommer att fokusera på ”tradition” som begrepp, såsom den används i digitala miljöer och som analytiskt begrepp. Syftet är att studera vad som menas och hänvisas till när vi talar om traditioner i samiskt producerade hemsidor, och vad detta skapar i sin tur.
I en tredje artikel kommer expressiva former i dessa digitala miljöer att studeras.
Artiklarna kommer att publiceras i internationella vetenskapliga tidskrifter. Detta är planeringen såsom den ser ut idag… det hinner hända en del på vägen, men följ bloggen så håller du dig uppdaterad!
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.