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Samiska kvinnnor och osynlig historia: En komparativ studie av svenskar och samer vid 1600-talstinget
Linnéuniversitetet.
2006 (Swedish)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the paper is to gain new knowledge about Saami women in the 17th century using court protocols in the Luleå and Torneå Lappmarks, supplemented by secondary sources.

Saami women did not write their own history, nor did Saami men. Information available about Saami is written by male representatives of the Swedish crown and church. The scholarly challenge therefore lies in reconstructing history about a group of people from meagre sources written by an altogether different group. To this end, the postcolonial research field was chosen as a theoretical framework as it provides us with important issues suitable for this paper. Among these issues we find the view that history of colonised people written by the coloniser is biased and incomplete, that we should be prepared to discover not one but several different histories as well as signs of resistance. As for research on women, I use the concept of dynamic hierarchies by which should be understood that the combination of variables such as age, sex, socio-economic standing and cultural background determine the degree of influence that a person will have.

Together with the theoretical framework, the substantial empirical material and methodological considerations are of great importance for this paper. Close to 300 court cases from the Lappmarks have been analysed. In addition, a quantitative and qualitative study was made including a comparison with two regions in Sweden in order to tell whether the activity of Saami women in court differed from that of other women.

The results are of three kinds. First, it identifies and explains differences in the situation of Saami and Swedish women. Second, it indicates that Saami history of the 17th century is less homogeneous than has hitherto been assumed and furthermore contained several elements of resistance. As a third feature, it suggests that today’s knowledge of Saami in the 17th century is based on parts of Saami society, rather than the society as a whole, due to methodological deficiencies in the historical material.

Among differences between Saami and Swedish women, we find the tremendous importance of personal property in the Lappmarks, as opposed to ownership of land in Sweden. Also, the stigma that often followed on premarital sexual intercourse for women in Sweden did not necessarily occur to Saami women. This difference has previously been identified by other scholars, and the hypothesis brought forward here is a strategy to avoid inbreeding in combination with considerably stronger Saami dynasties. Somewhat surprisingly, the yearly number of sexual crime per capita was not necessarily higher in the Lappmarks than in the Swedish investigations, indicating that the repression of Saami was not more severe than in Sweden. I furthermore find evidence of a strong socio-economic stratification among the Saami, supporting the view of dynamic hierarchies.

The situation and development in the two Lappmarks were not homogeneous. In Luleå Lappmark, the level of social crime, noticeably sexual crime, was considerably higher and the level of economic transactions considerably lower, than in Torneå Lappmark. On an overall level, the general trend towards higher levels of economic transactions took place on only a very modest scale in the Lappmarks compared to Sweden and Europe at large during the 17th century. As for resistance, we find evidence of what I call a "walk-the-walk strategy", i.e. Saami using to their advantage regulations imposed on them by Swedes, along with other kinds of strategies.

Lastly, I show that the methodology used by 17th century source writers is often flawed because Swedish informants and encounters with wealthy reindeer breeding Saami men have to a large extent provided the information for the texts, rather than representatives from the whole Saami population. This is something that to date has been overlooked by many scholars. A challenge for future research is therefore to reconstruct the history of other, less visible, Saami groups as well.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Linnéuniversitet, 2006.
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-16336OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-16336DiVA: diva2:531072
Note
MasteruppsatsAvailable from: 2012-06-05 Created: 2012-06-05 Last updated: 2012-06-08Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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