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Rimligt tvivel?: En studie om historievetenskaplig stringens i en juridisk kontext
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

What happens when historical theories are used as evidence in a trial? Is it possible for historians to use their own scientific tools when acting as participants in a juridical process? And how do judges deal with historical evidence? The aim of this study is to answer these questions by analyzing a specific trial, known as “Härjedalsmålet”. Härjedalsmålet was a court case about the Sami people’s right to let their reindeer graze on private property grounds in Härjedalen during the winter season. Their claim to this right was based on prescription of time immemorial. In order to prove their long history in Härjedalen, the Sami people summoned the archaeologist Inger Zachrisson to testify.According to Zachrisson, the Sami people have a history in Härjedalen that stretches as far back as 98 AD. However, another archaeologist, Evert Baudou, claims that there is no evidence of a continuity of the Sami culture in Härjedalen during the early Middle Ages. In order to prove their respective theories, the archaeologists base their arguments on both archeological and historical (written) source material. The archeologists wrote a number of statements and articles which they sent to court. In this master’s thesis, these statements and articles are analyzed using the scientific criteria that a study must meet to be considered scientific by the historian community.The analysis shows that the scientific criteria are not fully met in by the archeologists and that the used written source material from the Middle Ages doesn’t meet the criteria for classic historical source criticism. The judges do not evaluate the historical evidence; they simple note that the archeologist have different opinions and that there is no certain evidence of a continuing Sami culture in Härjedalen during the early Middle Ages. The conclusion of this master’s thesis raises new questions: can history, known to be an interpretive science, ever produce evidence that is “certain enough” in a court? And how can the Sami people, whose nomadic life left little archeological and historical source material behind, ever prove their existence in a certain area in historical times?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 42 p.
Keyword [sv]
Härjedalsmålet, Renbetesmålet, Sami, Prescription of time immemorial
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-94668OAI: diva2:756179
Subject / course
Available from: 2014-10-16 Created: 2014-10-14 Last updated: 2014-10-16Bibliographically approved

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