Times of Indigenous Transitions: Intergenerational Temporalities in Sápmi

Frida Buhre, The Times of a Just Transition
Project status

The indigenous communities in Sápmi have long faced serious impediments to their culture and livelihoods, including colonial land-grab, resource extraction, racial stereotyping and violence, and denial of political rights (Lindmark and Sundström 2018; Lantto 2013; Hossain and Petrétei 2017; Ojala and Nordin 2019). Climate change is further amplifying these problems, all the while adding more facets to them. One such added complication is the climate change-induced threats to reindeer husbandry, and reindeer herders are now voicing the concern that husbandry cannot be sustained in the face of climate change (Furberg, Evengård, and Nilsson 2011). As colonial Sweden has turned reindeer husbandry into an inherited right and profession, the existential threat to reindeer husbandry is also a question of intergenerational transitions in Sami communities. As such, it sparks questions of time and justice: how are collective memories, present exigencies, and future imaginaries negotiated among Sami generations in the face of climate change? These timeframes are central tools in navigating what just—whether de-colonial or socio-environmentally sustainable—intergenerational transitions in reindeer husbandry might look like.

Lately, many Sami artists have addressed Sami intergenerational responses to climate change-induced threats to reindeer husbandry. From Britta Marakatt-Labbas textile narratives, to Ann-Helén Laestadius literary landscapes, to Maxida Märaks lyrics and stage performances, Sami artists are calling attention to climate change as an existential threat in Sápmi, imbued with colonial legacies. By analyzing the works of these of Sami artists, this project will provide a innovative framework for indigenous temporalities and how these can be used to negotiate questions of justice and intergenerational transitions.

By combining perspectives from intergenerational communication, indigenous rhetoric, post-colonial critique, and aesthetics, this interdisciplinary project pushes our understanding of intergenerational timeframes in postcolonial contexts. As such, it contributes to a dynamic theoretical debate on colonial practices of temporal othering of indigenous peoples (Rifkin 2017; Buhre and Bjork 2021; Fabian 2002), but adds an aesthetic approach that also points to indigenous alternatives. By drawing attention to the temporal implications of generational transitions in reindeer herding, it will provide innovate conceptual development for how situated experiences intermesh with dominant narratives about the timescales and timeframes of climate change. By focusing on artistic expressions, it can give a deeper sense of how justice claims around generational transitions are negotiated in Sápmi, by providing a discussion on meaning-making and responses to loss, existential threats, and colonial legacies.

References cited

Bjork, Collin, and Frida Buhre. 2021. “Resisting Temporal Regimes, Imagining Just Temporalities.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 51 (3): 177–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/02773945.2021.1918503.

Buhre, Frida. 2013. “Finding Never-Land: Nomadic Space-Time, Rhetoric, and Ethnic Minorities.” In Perspectives on Space and Place, edited by Gloria Everson, Ebook. Oxford: Interdisciplinary-Press.

———. 2015. “Att Läsa Mellanrum Eller Tomrum? Ett Retorik-Analytiskt Vägskäl.” In Förledd Och Förtjust: Andra Generationens Retorikvetare Tar Ordet, edited by Erik Bengtson and Frida Buhre, 43–59. Södertörn Rhetorical Studies 3. Huddinge: Södertörn University Press.

———. 2019. Speaking Other Times: Hannah Arendt and the Temporality of Politics. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press.

———. 2020. “Det Tysta Landskapet: Samerna Och Fjällen i Det Tidiga 1900-Talets Press.” In Berättelser, Retorik Och Medier, edited by Tommy Bruhn, 175–91. Open Books at Lund University. https://doi.org/10.37852/62.

———. 2022. “Child Figurations in Youth Climate Justice Activism: The Visual Rhetoric of the Fridays for Future on Instagram.” In The Challenges and Transformative Potential of Children’s Representation. Palgrave Macmillan.

Buhre, Frida, and Collin Bjork. 2021. “Braiding Time: Sami Temporalities for Indigenous Justice.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 51 (3): 227–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/02773945.2021.1918515.

Fabian, Johannes. 2002. Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. New York: Columbia University Press.

Furberg, Maria, Birgitta Evengård, and Maria Nilsson. 2011. “Facing the Limit of Resilience: Perceptions of Climate Change among Reindeer Herding Sami in Sweden.” Global Health Action 4 (1): 8417. https://doi.org/10.3402/gha.v4i0.8417.

Hossain, Kamrul, and Anna Petrétei. 2017. “Resource Development and Sámi Rights in the Sápmi Region: Integrating Human Rights Impact Assessment in Licensing Processes.” Nordic Journal of International Law 86 (3): 302–40. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718107-08603006.

Lantto, Patrik. 2013. “The Importance of Implementation: The Role of the Lapp Administration in Swedish Sami Policy, 1885–1971.” In , 36–55. Örebro: Örebro University. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-81364.

Lindmark, Daniel, and Olle Sundström, eds. 2018. The Sami and the Church of Sweden: Results from a White Paper Project. Religion i Norrland. Möklinta: Gidlunds.

Ojala, Carl-Gösta, and Jonas Monie Nordin. 2019. “Mapping Land and People in the North: Early Modern Colonial Expansion, Exploitation, and Knowledge.” Scandinavian Studies 91 (1–2): 98–134.

Rifkin, Mark. 2017. Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination. Duke University Press.

Sign up to our email newsletters