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Samerna, staten och rätten i Torne lappmark under 1600-talet: Makt, diskurs och representation
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Sami, the State and the Court in Torne lappmark during the Seventeenth Century : Power, Discourse and Representation (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is an analysis of the cultural meeting between the Church and the Crown on the one hand, and the Sami community on the other, in a lappmark in the north of Sweden during the seventeenth century.

The authorities viewed and acted towards the Sami from the standpoint of their normative system, incorporating the political/ideological discourse that existed at this time. This was implemented by means of judicial machinery that represented the Sami as indulging in immoral sexual behavior and idolatry. This was due to the fact the authorities nurtured an interest in the different: the Sami became the Other, representing an antithesis of the authorities’ own existence. The authorities’ need to create this antithesis led to a representation of the Sami as sexually immoral and idolatrous that endured throughout the period of this research, with results that have both qualitative and quantitative foundations in two categories of crimes: those against religion, and sexual offences.

The Sami, for their part, exhibited cultural manifestations that, when detached from the court rolls’ narrative structure, clearly distinguish themselves from the normative system represented and implemented by the authorities. Conciliation in court was common amongst the Sami; their views on theft, murder or manslaughter, and sexual offences never coincided with the perspective maintained by the authorities on these issues, which was based on laws and ordinances. There were two reasons for this: the first was that the Sami did not stigmatize as criminals individuals who had committed unlawful deeds, as was the case with the authorities, who operated within the framework of the Swedish legal system; the second reason was that the Sami had other traditions concerning marriage and religious practice. The Sami interacted not only with each other, but also in relation to other groups of people outside the community, such as visiting farmers, townspeople, merchants and ironworkers. Judicial matters were raised for different reasons: to document the distribution of inheritance; to obtain remuneration for purchases on credit; to obtain a financial settlement with regard to theft; and to establish clearly the sequence of events, in cases of murder and manslaughter. This sheds light on the question of why and how the Sami made use of the possibilities afforded to them by the court, despite instances of repression to begin with, when the authorities used the court system to initiate cases against the Sami, including crimes against religion and sexual offences. The legal cases also shed light upon Sami traditions, morals and cultural expressions, which not only differed from the normative system of the authorities but also from various traditions and morals that were exhibited by the peasantry in other parts of Sweden at this time – we can thus “see into” a seventeenth-century Sami community.

The authorities represented repression and control, with the result that the Sami became the Other. However, the Sami interacted both within and beyond their own community. This provides us with information about traditions and morals, which seem to have been characteristic in terms of Sami culture, whilst at the same time differing from the type of behaviour the authorities desired.

The survey includes theoretical perspectives used by sociologist Stuart Hall, philosophers Michel Foucault and Paul Ricoeur, literary scientist and cultural theorist Homi K. Bhabha, and others, as well as theories proposed by literary scientists Ania Loomba and Edward Said, as well as cultural theorist and literary scientist Robert J. C. Young.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. , 237 p.
Skrifter från institutionen för historiska studier, ISSN 1651-0046 ; 8
Keyword [en]
History, Sami History, Early Modern History, Cultural Meeting, Sami Culture, Sami, Representation, Discourse, Power, The Other
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-254ISBN: 91-7305-647-2OAI: diva2:142826
Public defence
Available from: 2004-05-04 Created: 2004-05-04Bibliographically approved

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