Sámi archaeology and postcolonial theory

Marte Spangen, Anna Kaisa Salmi, Tiina Äikäs

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


While postcolonial theory has been a relatively hot topic in archaeology for the last decade or so, explicit use of this theoretical complex has not been very prominent in Sámi archaeology. It could be argued that thoughts very close to postcolonial critique have been developed in Sámi archaeology even before this theoretical turn became fashionable in general archaeology, and indeed that the concept of Sámi archaeology is itself a distinct expression of the postcolonial times we are living in. Yet, a postcolonial theoretical framework for these thoughts is rarely explicitly discussed. The question is how the ideas of and in Sámi archaeology relate to the postcolonial turn; have they prepared the grounds for it in archaeology, has it inspired its development in archaeology, or are the protagonists for postcolonial theory in archaeology a separate group of researchers from the ones doing Sámi archaeology? In this session we would like to explore how researchers in Sámi archaeology relate to postcolonial theory, if at all, and whether it is problematic that postcolonial concepts like hybridity and creolism are discussed in relation to Sámi archaeology without further debating the theoretical framework as such. Is the lack of explicit mentions of postcolonial theory in Sámi archaeology is related to a sensitivity to a more or less factual Sámi need to establish the Sámi as one historically consistent group in order to claim present rights, opposing the original postcolonial theories’ emphasize on creolization and hybridisation as continuous modes, rather than a result of the meeting between two essential entities? Considering that researchers in Sámi archaeology seem to have been particularly concerned with local participation and cooperation during the last decade, we would also like to discuss if there is a danger of this approach still resulting in a condescending asymmetrical relationship between the researcher and “the undeveloped native”. Finally and most fundamentally our main questions for discussion are: What could a more explicit use of postcolonial theory add to Sámi archaeology? And can Sámi archaeology contribute to new theoretical developments?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2014
EventNordic TAG - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 23 Apr 201426 Apr 2014


ConferenceNordic TAG


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