Accepted Paper:

Aspects of Sami representations at Jokkmokk Winter Market in the north of Sweden  


Anna Varfolomeeva (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes indigenous representations at Jokkmokk Winter Market 2014. The festival is developing in two dimensions: as a tourist event with a clichéd image of Sami culture and as an opportunity for indigenous activists to gain attention for the environmental problems of the North.

Paper long abstract:

One of the most well-known tourist attractions in the Northern Sweden is Jokkmokk Winter Market which takes place annually in February. The festival has a history of more than 400 years and started as a market place and also an annual gathering for indigenous Sami people in the area.

The Sami people often use the Winter Market as an opportunity to gain wide attention to regional problems and conflicts. This year alongside with the festival two demonstrations against mining prospects in the Jokkmokk area took place; they were complemented by anti-mining installation in the local museum and a documentary screening. As a result, the Winter Market is developing in two parallel dimensions: as a tourist event (in many cases with a clichéd image of Sami culture) and as an area for Sami activists to express their concerns and to feel united.

Through participatory observation methods and media analysis the paper aims to discuss the aspects of indigenous representations at Jokkmokk Winter Market 2014. The research shows that whereas the tourist office of Jokkmokk (primary organizer of the event) is still relying on the popular images of "last wilderness of Europe" and "mysterious indigenous people", the Sami activists are nowadays using the festival in their struggle against colonization of the North. At the same time, the festival's visitors, especially non-Swedish speakers, rarely get the opportunity to explore the "activist's" dimension of the event due to the lack of promotion outside the Sami circles.

Panel P020
Polar mobilities: resilience and transformations (ANTHROMOB)