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Bridging Divides

Bridging Divides: Ethno-Political Leadership among the Russian Sami

Indra Overland
Mikkel Berg-Nordlie
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 162
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  • Book Info
    Bridging Divides
    Book Description:

    The Sami are a Northern indigenous people whose land, Sapmi, covers territory in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. For the Nordic Sami, the last decades of the 20th century saw their indigenous rights partially recognized, a cultural and linguistic revival and the establishment of Sami parliaments. The Russian Sami, however, did not have the same opportunities and were isolated behind the closed border until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This book examines the following two decades and the Russian Sami's attempt to achieve a linguistic revival, to mend the Cold War scars, and to establish their own independent ethno-political organizations.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-668-7
    Subjects: Population Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. Maps
    (pp. viii-ix)
  6. Transcription
    (pp. x-xii)
  7. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The Sámi are an indigenous Northern European people whose homeland, Sápmi, extends across the territories of four states: Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. For the Sámi of the Nordic countries, a long period of cultural repression gave way to a renaissance of sorts during the last half of the twentieth century. During the last decades of the century, their indigenous rights were recognized, they experienced a cultural and linguistic revival, and popularly elected Sámi parliaments were established in each of the three Nordic states. In contrast, the Soviet Sámi had little opportunity to develop independent ethno-political organizations and were largely...

  8. Chapter 2 Who Are the Russian Sámi?
    (pp. 11-29)

    The Sámi are the indigenous people of Scandinavia, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. In older literature, they are referred to as ‘Lapps’, a word first recorded in Russian chronicles as ‘Lop’ and that may have originated in medieval times in northeastern areas of Europe, such as Staraya Ladoga (Hansen and Olsen 2004: 45–51). Since ‘Lapp’ is considered a derogatory term by many members of the group, it has now largely been replaced by ‘Sámi’, the people’s own name for themselves in the North Sámi language.

    The Sámi people’s traditional area of habitation is called ‘Sápmi’ (once again, in the...

  9. Chapter 3 Lost Land, Broken Culture?
    (pp. 30-57)

    Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the main organizational unit in Russian Sámi society was thesiyt, which often corresponded to thepogost, an old Russian administrative unit (see Utvik 1985: 1; Konstantinov 1997: 17). The East Sámisiytsare defined as having four main characteristics in common: a specific territory with a shared winter settlement (tallv siyt) for its members; diverse social ties among the members, including cooperation and mutual aid; a degree of self-government, including redistribution of natural resources among families; a common cult and ceremonies (Kuropyatnik 1992: 163; Zorgdrager 1984: 13). Summer campsites were numerous and...

  10. Chapter 4 Language Revival
    (pp. 58-73)

    Kildin Sámi is the most important surviving Sámi language in Russia. It is both the language most widely spoken and the only one that has been subjected to an attempted linguistic revival since perestroika. The other Kola Sámi languages are arguably beyond saving, except perhaps Skolt Sámi, which may survive in Finland (Rießler and Wilbur 2007: 41). Hence, saving Kildin Sámi is the last chance the Kola Sámi have to retain one of their languages. However, all linguists who have been involved in the Kola Sámi language revival seem to be able to agree that saving Kildin will not be...

  11. Chapter 5 Educational Reorientation
    (pp. 74-91)

    Education is one of the main mechanisms for reproducing culture and is therefore often identified as a key tool of ethno-politics. Indeed, Anthony D. Smith describes in a primordialist perspective how nationalist intellectuals see education:

    [Education is] a process by which the individual comes to realise his role in the particular historic culture in which he has been brought up, and simultaneously to understand the history and destiny of the community to which his fate is linked, by birth and residence or choice. There is no ‘education’ outside the community; and no ‘community’, properly understood, without the self-consciousness that education...

  12. Chapter 6 Political Representation
    (pp. 92-102)

    The term ‘intelligentsia’ refers to people with higher education and is in essence synonymous with ‘academics’ or ‘intellectuals’. It is also used self-referentially by those to whom it applies, often invoking a special role and duty in society – or, as one of the Russian Sámi members of this group of people put it: ‘[The intelligentsia are] those who bleed with their whole heart for their people, for its problems; and who try to raise the people, to support [it]’. As Nistad (2004: 12–13), referring to the intelligentsia of Imperial Russia, wrote:

    In sociological terms, the intelligentsia could be defined...

  13. Chapter 7 Conclusions
    (pp. 103-110)

    In this book, we have focused essentially on a rather small circle of people and their attempts to build an ethno-political organizational framework for their indigenous group – the Russian Sámi – and integrate this into already existing Sámi political structures abroad, and revitalize the culture of their people. What they undertook was no small task, particularly in view of the weak position of the Russian Sámi at the outset of the period studied. Deep gaps existed that needed to be bridged between the Russian and Nordic Sámi as well as between the rural and urban sectors of the Russian Sámi community....

  14. Appendix 1. Glossary and Abbreviations
    (pp. 111-112)
  15. Appendix 2. Sámi Population Estimates
    (pp. 113-115)
  16. Appendix 3. Nuclear Bomb Testing on the Kola Peninsula
    (pp. 116-117)
  17. Appendix 4. Interethnic Relations
    (pp. 118-120)
  18. Appendix 5. Language
    (pp. 121-124)
  19. Appendix 6. Three Intertwined Social Problems
    (pp. 125-125)
  20. Appendix 7. The Complexity of Ethnic Identity
    (pp. 126-128)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 129-144)
  22. Index
    (pp. 145-150)