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Public defence: Sámi identities, duodji and epistemology within sámi museums

Master Liisa-Rávná Finbog at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages will defend her dissertation It speaks to you - Making Kin of People, Duodji and Stories in Sami Museums for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Doktorgradskandidat Liisa-Rávná Finbog, vegg med skriften "Det humanistiske fakultet"
Photo of Finbog: Eirin Torgersen

What is a system of knowledge? How do such systems implicate musuems and cultural heritage institutions? And how, if at all, has the relation between museums and epistemology influenced the negotiation of self and Indigenous sovereignty. These are just some of the questions discussed in Finbog’s dissertation.

On the basis of a large pool of oral material as well as multiple Sámi museum collections, this dissertation examines the connection between Sámi identities, duodji, sovereignty and Sámi heritage objects in museums. Traditionally, duodji has been defined as Sámi “craft”, but in her work Finbog demonstrates how this definition is the result of a historical devaluation, caused by multiple colonial strategies, amongst them assimilation as well as the brutal missionary politics that from the 16th century onwards were inflicted on the Sámi. Following her demonstration, Finbog goes on to redefine the practice of duodji as an important Sámi epistemology of aesthetics and muitalusat [stories].

Using the practices, materials, and relations of Sámi duodji as a lens, this dissertation thus provides new insight into the role of Sámi museums as Indigenous institutions, and furthermore how such institutions have come to provide an important component of Sámi epistemologies. By way of multiple conversations as well as museum visits with various duojárat, which is a common denomination for people that practice duodji, Finbog also looks into the relation between museums, duodji, and Sámi source communities, showing how such relations have a massive impact on Sámi identities and perceptions of sovereignty.

As such, the dissertation provides a far more complex picture and understanding of museum collections, Sámi museums as cultural heritage institutions, and the multiple and diverse processes that are initiated in the connection between a process of negotiating Sámi identities and Sámi museums.

The defence will stream live on April 22, 3 pm. 


Request a digital copy of the dissertation.

Trial lecture

Designated topic: “Indigenous Sovereignty and the Museum”

Published April 20, 2021

Evaluation committee

Associate Professor Julie Nagam, University of Winnipeg (first opponent)

Professor Britt Kramvig, UiT The Arctic University of Norway (second opponent)

Associate Professor Hugo Reinert, University of Oslo (administrator)

Chair of the defence

Professor Helge Jordheim


Associate Professor Marzia Varutti, University of Oslo

Professor Gunvor Guttorm, Sámi Allaskuvlla

Published Apr. 9, 2021 8:49 AM - Last modified Apr. 20, 2021 10:12 AM