Framing Sámi Entanglement in Early Modern Colonial Processes: Ethnohistorical and Archaeological Perspectives from Interior North Norway

Marte Spangen, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Tiina Äikäs and Bryan C. Hood

Abstract

Emerging Sámi archaeologies have overlooked the colonial processes of the Early Modern period. Although Sámi agency is emphasized, symmetry, and reciprocity are set as the default mode of Sámi social relations with Others, inhibiting study of asymmetrical colonial processes. Early Modern Sámi agency was constrained by asymmetries in the articulation between state institutions and Sámi practical-production activity. Practice theory grounds a discussion of how the Swedish state enrolled the Sámi in its sovereignty project using restrained forms of coercion that produced semiconsensual hegemonic relations. Taxation data for two inland Sámi districts in present-day north Norway suggest potential constraints experienced by Sámi households in meeting state demands. Hegemony was established when the intrinsic values of Sámi practical-production activity became entangled with the extrinsic rewards and constraints of state extraction strategies and commercial activities. Archaeology can provide insight into the material outcomes of colonialism that are inaccessible to historians.

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