Decolonizing production healing, belonging, and social change in sápmi
The theory and practice of decolonization present an awkward paradox: How can social change occur in everyday life to disrupt state structures while entangled with the mundane, social, and institutional practices and representations that perpetuate state power? In Sápmi, the transborder Indigenous Sámi homeland, decolonization has been intertwined with the institutionalization of Sámi governance and cultural reclamation through national governing bodies. In the Finnish-controlled regions, failures of national recognition of Sámi self-determination have fueled disenchantment with established political platforms and a growing movement to enact self-representation outside these realms. A study of Sámi craft making uncovers embodied mechanisms of decolonization, actualized through production as fluid boundary making and intergenerational healing. Craft makers reinforce relationships to land and family networks in ways that unsettle racialized and legal delineations of community belonging, redirecting the power of representation away from state-constrained decision-making bodies and toward everyday Sámi practice. In doing so, they also negotiate their own use of rejected tropes and colonial networks of production. This interplay establishes the transformative potential and constraints of an embodied decolonization.