New book: Samisk reindrift, Norske Myter

January 19, 2016 • Philip BurgessBlog, Dávggas, Projects, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders






A new book goes on sale today entitled ‘Samisk reindrift, Norske Myter’ (Sami reindeer husbandry, Norwegian myths) and it is the primary deliverable from the DÁVGGAS project, an interdisciplinary project involving researchers from NMBU and the Sami University College.

Edited by Tor A. Benjaminsen, Inger Marie Gaup Eira and Mikkel Nils Sara, the book is a collection of articles written by the project resaerchers and is sure to be an important contribution to the ongoing and often contested debates surrounding the continuation of an age old indigenous livelihood with the confines of a contemporary nation state. A seminar held in combination with the books publication will be held in Kautokeino, on February 9, 2016 (details to follow). The book is in Norwegian – you can view the introductory chapter here and purchase the book here.


From the foreword of the book (apologies, my translation),

This book is a product of the Dávggas project, which has been an interdisciplinary research project on Sami reindeer husbandry in Finnmark. In Northern Sami  dávggas means “flexible”, “elastic” or “resilient.” We chose this name to emphasize that reindeer is a pastoral industry that follows a flexible adaptation. To recognize such flexibility is important for attaining effective research and management.

The book’s title alludes to Bjorklund and Brant Bergs classic Sami – Norwegian interventions from 1981 and a later book chapter by the same authors titled “Sami reindeer and Norwegian understanding “from 1986. We have in the book chosen to focus on myths, because we who worked on this project has become more and more aware that there are some dominant notions of Sami reindeer in Norwegian society that are poorly grounded in empirical research, or where there are other interpretations that do not get attention in the debate on reindeer husbandry. Such common perceptions or taken-for-granted-terms are what we put term ‘Myths’. Central to these notions is the idea that there are too many reindeer, with all its forms. In this book, we critically examine this idea from different angles, and we asks questions like “compared to what it is too many reindeer?”, “how to influence policy and climate variability with regard to reindeer? “and” Who wins and who loses on that idea that there are too many reindeer dominating the debate about reindeer? ”

Myths about reindeer husbandry are not just important for the debate but also for
they create the actual production conditions in which herders operates under. This is therefore also an interesting example of the close ties that may occur between research, popular
understandings and policy.


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