Sergej Sergel’s Field Research in Northern Norway and Finland: Contextualizing Early 20th-Century Sami

Elena Glavatskaya and Gunnar Thorvaldsen


The writings of ethnographer Sergej Sergel after his travels in Finnmark, Norway, and Finland (1907–1908) deserve more attention among western scholars. Coming from the professional ethnographic chair of learning in St. Petersburg, he gave fresh, thorough, and humane insights into the various ways the Sami adapted to their harsh environment. He had not chosen to go west in order to find the original Sami culture, but was sent there and solved his commission by using a variety of methods to describe the differences between especially the Sea Sami and their nomadic coethnics. This article aims to compare his pictures, report, and book with complementary source material in order to exercise source criticism and put his findings into context.

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