Accepted Paper:

Making Sámi heritage: representations of Sámi culture and history in museum exhibitions  

Author:

Nika Potinkara (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I will discuss the representations of the Sámi in the permanent exhibitions of two Sámi museums. How do the Sámi, previously represented by others, display their culture and history? How do the museums construct Sámi heritage?

Paper long abstract:

Museums are significant places for representing ethnic groups and boundaries. The artifacts in museum exhibitions are given different meanings by different visitors, but the visitor´s process of producing meanings is affected by the way the artifacts are chosen and displayed. By exhibiting culture and history, museums construct heritage and produce power relations.

Sámi museums have been established with the aim of strengthening Sámi cultural identity and exhibiting Sámi heritage. The museums can be seen as part of a larger political strategy, striving to reclaim representations of the Sámi and to make Sámi culture and history visible - to the Sámi themselves as well as to a larger society.

In this paper, I will look at the process of heritage-making in two Sámi museums: Ájtte in Sweden and Siida in Finland. The paper concentrates on the representations of the Sámi in the permanent exhibitions of these museums. How do the Sámi, previously represented by others, display their culture and history? How do the museums construct Sámi heritage?

Panel P312
Making heritage, making knowledge