“Everybody recognized that we were not white”. Sami identity politics in Finland, 1945-1990
The theme of the thesis is the identity politics of the Sami movement in Finland between 1945-1990. The focus is on developments in the representational strategies of the Sami elite, which evolved from threatened Sami culture via modernising Sami to the most obvious loan from the Indigenous Peoples’ Movement, the “natural people” imagery. The political space underwent profound changes in the 1970s. The Sami elite found themselves in the institutionalised political space after the establishment of the Sami Delegation, the first of the Sami Parliaments in Nordic countries in 1973. A longer process of internationalisation, participation in the global Indigenous Peoples’ movement, resulted, among other things, to an internal division within the Sami identity politics, as the institutionalised Sami movement chose to concentrate on judicial reasoning, while the ”Independents” could use more radical ”ecologized” representational strategies. Neither of these strategies was legitimised in the minority politics of Finland. The land rights claims were sometimes ignored as encroachments to the formal equality provided by the Finnish society and the ecological reputation of the Sami under new hegemonic alternative discourse of environmentalism deteriorated fast. The use of the global rights discourse proved to be problematic in the Finnish political context. The possibility to ”guilt-trip” the national bodies was stunted by the institutionalisation, which enclosed the Sami activity to the national political frame, in its required political culture and rendered parts of the global indigenous imagery useless. The Sami in Finland can only point out to restricted successes in ”soft” issues, not in those of their interests, i.e. the land rights.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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