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Reviewed by:
  • Indigenous Research Methodologies in Sámi and Global Contexts ed. by Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Pigga Keskitalo, and Torjer Olsen
  • May-Britt Öhman (bio)
Indigenous Research Methodologies in Sámi and Global Contexts edited by Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Pigga Keskitalo, and Torjer Olsen Brill, 2021

indigenous research methodologies in Sámi and Global Contexts is a collection by non-Sámi and Sámi (primarily North Sámi) scholars who discuss Sámi methodologies in relation to Indigenous methodologies. The anthology makes two important contributions: discussing what Sámi methodologies might be and doing so in English to engage a global audience for further exchange. Sámi scholars and authors have a long tradition of both doing research and contributing to European research and philosophy, extending over the last millennium. Most of this work is not available in English. Sámi authors have published in Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, and the different Sámi languages as well as other European languages. Much has been written by and about the Sámi, but there is surprisingly little acknowledged on an international level—even within the settler-colonial states crisscrossing Sámi territories.

The Sámi people, originating in and living in the Fennoscandinavian peninsula—Norway, Sweden, Finland, and northwestern Russia of today, are commonly referred to as the sole recognized Indigenous people within the European Union. Nine Sámi languages remain in use, and while the most well-known traditional livelihood is reindeer herding, Sámi have always held different trades and expertise on all societal levels. Sámi have been pushed aside through time. During the last 150 years Sámi have been increasingly subject to racism and discrimination as the states have stolen Sámi land, turning it into state property or into non-Sámi private ownership, facilitating industrial exploitation such as mining, forestry, and power production.

As noted in two chapters, one by Virtanen et al, and the other by Porsanger and Seurujärvi-Kari, Sámi authors and scholars, many educated as vicars, have actively contributed to the development of scientific thought. The last three decades have witnessed an extensive list of Sámi scholarly publications, a majority published in Swedish, Sámi, Norwegian, and Finnish languages. Many discuss what Sámi and Indigenous methodologies are or should be. Hence, this volume builds on a longtime ongoing development of Sámi scholarship, which several of the authors are part of. [End Page 157]

The articles focus mainly on Northern Sámi contexts. The majority of authors are scholars, while one is a journalist and another is a Sámi politician and activist. The majority live in the north of Norway and Finland, and one, also of North Sámi origin, works at a university on the Swedish side of Sápmi. Two chapters discuss places and Indigenous Peoples in the Global South: Namibia and southwestern Amazonia.

The reader has to work to identify the authors' Sámi or non-Sámi status, which is frustrating when discussing Sámi and Indigenous methodologies. As a (Lule and Forest) Sámi scholar, I wish to understand the position the authors are speaking from, what lived experiences they have, and what Sámi community they belong to. However, being discreet about Sámi ethnicity is a marker of the continued discrimination and racism directed toward Sámi in Fenno-Scandinavian settler-colonial academia and society at large.

The introductory chapter makes some unfortunate misleading statements regarding the number of Sámi, as well as the geographic range of Sámi peoples. Contrary to what is stated, despite assimilation and deportations since the establishment of the modern settler-colonial states, Sámi have always lived all across the Fenno-Scandinavian region, and there are currently highly active Sámi associations with numerous members in the Nordic capitals of Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo. The number of Sámi is likely to be far higher than the figures presented for Sweden, which are based on narrow estimations made in the 1970s.

The chapters deal with issues of decolonial authorship and Indigenous methodologies and theories; they aim to identify specific (North) Sámi methodologies, while referring to North Sámi cultural practices and...