Souvenirs and the Commodification of Sámi Spirituality in Tourism.
AuthorMathisen, Stein Roar
Tangible, material objects sold in tourism contexts are often seen as problematic examples of commercialization, especially when they are marketed as examples of intangible Indigenous cultural heritages, representing Indigenous religion or spirituality. Taking the in situ presentations of examples of Sámi souvenirs connected to religious contexts in souvenir shops as a point of departure, this analysis investigates the complex relations these elements enter, with reference to religion, to the past, to the arts or crafts field, and to questions of ownership. The main theoretical focus is on how these souvenirs are adjusted to general, Western tourism imaginaries. One of the examples of such souvenirs are replicas in different sizes and qualities of the Sámi noaidi’s drum, while other examples discuss the use of the symbols on the drum applied to souvenir products, such as jewelry or other design products. Points of departure are the material souvenirs themselves, contextualized with in situ presentations in shops, on the net, and in social media, and linked to tourism imaginaries. The article tries to show how this in turn is related to still prevailing, general Western understandings of Indigenous Sámi religion and spiritualty.