Accepted Paper:

Heritage, power and ethnicity: a Norwegian case study  

Author:

Arne Bugge Amundsen (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

The Sami population of Norway has since the 1970’s been fighting on, with and for their own history. Granted the position and rights as an indigenous population within the national borders of Norway, they also have grasped the possibilities within the field of heritage policy and heritage making. The paper will discuss this Norwegian-Sami example at a certain length, following the development since the 1970’s and until the present days, and direct the attention towards the relationship between hermeneutics and power in the field of heritage making.

Paper long abstract:

The Sami population of Norway has since the 1970's been fighting on, with and for their own history. Granted the position and rights as an indigenous population within the national borders of Norway, they also have grasped the possibilities within the field of heritage policy and heritage making. One of the major fields of conflict has been the museological, where the question of who had the moral and hermeneutical right to display Sami culture and Sami history. Another major conflict field has been within archaeology, where the question of interpretation of findings and sites has been central. A third conflict area has been on ownership: A number of established Norwegian museums have Sami collections. Their display of their collections has been severely challenged by the Sami cultural struggle, but the position has changed from a dispute on display to a dispute on ownership. Should the Sami collections be "repatriated" and put on display in the historical Sami areas in Northern Norway?

Of course, this is also a question of the power of interpretation - often disguised as a question of moral and historical position: If Norway is the colonizer, does it not have to pay its historical debts to the Sami people? On the other hand, is not academic interpretation cross-cultural and free from prejudice in all directions?

The paper will discuss this Norwegian-Sami example at a certain length, following the development since the 1970's and until the present days, and direct the attention towards the relationship between hermeneutics and power in the field of heritage making.

Panel P312
Making heritage, making knowledge