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Monday, November 17, 2014

CIC Courseshare: New Class on Sámi Culture for Spring 2015

SCAN 3670 / 5670: Sámi Culture, Yesterday and Today

The northern tracts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula seem for many a singularly remote locale--Europe's area of sparsest population, an Arctic region where snow can remain on the ground for nine months out of the year and where the annual daylight regimen swings from a summer of perpetual night to a long, dark winter during which the sun never rises above the horizon. Yet to its indigenous inhabitants--the Sámi (Lapps)--this land is rich and bountiful, an age-old ally that deserves to be reverenced and safeguarded. Here Sámi people have lived from time immemorial, sustaining themselves on various combinations of hunting, fishing, reindeer husbandry, farming, and trade.

In this course, we explore the culture of the Sámi people, both on Sámi terms--through examination of Sámi language, oral tradition, material culture, religion, literature, film, digital media, and other cultural products--and on terms imposed from the outside. We will examine how neighboring peoples defined and disenfranchised Sámi over time, depicting them as magicians, primitives, racial inferiors, and trouble-makers in a manner that allowed authorities to discredit and disregard Sámi views. We will look at the legacy of this process of colonization as it continues today and how Sámi have worked to preserve their culture and bring it into the future. We will compare the Sámi situation to that of indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world, particularly those of North America. We will look at the international "Fourth World" or indigenous peoples' movement that has resulted in legislation like the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ongoing battles throughout the world to secure self-determination, cultural preservation, and resource rights for some of the world's smallest and most endangered populations. Through it all we will see a culture of remarkable vitality and resilience, one that offers deep wisdom and pragmatic insights for a world contemplating the notion of sustainability.

This course is taught in English and there are no prerequisites. It is offered through CIC Courseshare and taught by Dr. Thomas DuBois at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For more information, please contact: Thomas DuBois or Daniel Karvonen.

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