Technologies of Belonging: Crafting Life Beyond State Borders in Sámi Land
Natalia Magnani (University of Tromso)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines everyday governance through technologies of belonging in the transborder homeland of the Sámi. Challenging the nature of sovereignty in everyday life, it shows that quotidian practices of state-making and contestation are not about maintaining borders, but their fluidity.
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines everyday governance through technologies of belonging in Sápmi, the Indigenous homeland of the Sámi transcending Fenno-Scandinavian states. Lacking legalized border infrastructure, the boundaries of Sápmi are maintained through constantly shifting social boundaries of material production. Tracing these articulations from trade and tax relations of furs and silver with Norway, Sweden, and Russia in the Middle Ages, to contemporary craft making within a market economy, I show how Sámi artisans create alternative maps of Indigenous practice in relation to state sovereignties. Through techniques of working silver, wood, reindeer, and cloth, people erase administrative borders to define the territory of Sápmi, and claim rights to determine their own affairs in Sámi land. In this way constantly shifting idioms of belonging are crafted materially and through the body to challenge static frameworks of state recognition. Merging anthropological and geographical approaches to border making, the paper reveals how people repurpose daily technologies to express a mutability of territorial governance and community belonging. This challenges the nature of sovereignty in everyday life, showing that quotidian practices of state-making and contestation are not about maintaining borders, but their fluidity.
Geographies and anthropologies of the state: places, persons and nonhumans