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The Difficult Sami Heritage;: a study of museum practices
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on the difficult Sami heritage which is exhibited within local history museums in northern Sweden. The study incorporates theories from cultural science and sociology but it is written within religious history as a philological and text-oriented discipline where discourses and social constructions of the Sami heritage and worldviews are in focus. The overall aim of this study is to increase the understanding of the difficult Sami heritage. This means that the analysis focuses on perspectives and discourses within local museums and Sami organisations.

 

  • The first research question revolves around the significances and meanings of the difficult Sami heritage: What phenomena (artefacts) and dimensions (immaterial culture) of the difficult past in Sapmi are highlighted?
  • The second research question revolves around the power to represent the Sami heritage: How is the difficult Sami heritage represented?
  • The third research question revolves around perspectives within museum practices: What approaches are the museum practice based upon?

 

This study focuses on four museums in northern Sweden; Ajtte museum, Samgården, Norrbottens museums and Hägnan museum. They are all local history museums which exhibit the past within a specific region from a rather broad or holistic historical perspective. The student visited each museum and observed the exhibitions then. She read texts, analysed artefacts and watched movies. Facts and interpretations were documented with a pen and the most important phenomena authenticated with a camera.

 

The difficult phenomena and dimensions within the museums were structured in three groups: living conditions, dark artefacts and colonization. The group living condition refers to poor people, risks, cold climate, hard work, illnesses and social classes. Dark artefacts refer to very old graves and drums which have been lost to the external society. Colonization refers to representations of Sápmi, uses of lands and resources, wounds, lack of local participation within decision-making processes, conflicts and women´s rights.

 

The analysis of representations highlights reflections about the meanings of the difficult and how subjective this is. Many dimensions within the Sami culture which have appeared as difficult from a colonialist perspective may be bright from an insider perspective. The museum practices follow discourses but there are few expressions within the museums which are associated with ethnocentrism. The external society is not presented as something higher, better or more valuable, but it is obvious that the government did hurt the region in the past.

 

The museums which were included in this study, based practices on a local separatist/patriotic approach since the unique Sami culture was in focus. It was portrayed as something which stays in contrast to the overall society. The Sami culture was associated with positive characteristics such as traditional, peaceful, original and authentic. The peace and international understanding approach was also embedded since exhibitions were based on ideas expressed within The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) about the rights indigenous people have. The study also concludes that these museums rather based the practice on patriotic thinking, than a cosmopolitan. The museums made use of a bottom-up approach into a varying extent.  When the local perceptions were in focus are the following phenomena highlighted: the inner compass (director with wisdom), wounds of colonization, local worldviews and interaction with nature and animals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 90
Keywords [en]
difficult heritage, Sami heritage, colonization, religious history
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-385160OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-385160DiVA, id: diva2:1323158
Educational program
Master Programme in Religion in Peace and Conflict
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-11 Created: 2019-06-11 Last updated: 2019-06-11Bibliographically approved

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