Conceptualizing the North: Orientalism in the Arctic
Juha Ridanpää (University of Oulu, Finland)
In this article the purpose is to illustrate how the concept of ‘north’ has gathered its meaning through the social and cultural process of regional stereotyping, exoticism and mythology, and to scrutinize how the concept attains its meanings through a certain aspect of binarism. This will be elucidated through the example of Finnish northernness and its geographical manifestations. The theoretical stance comes close to the context of postcolonial criticism. The aim is to view how the mechanism of social and cultural power relations has worked at the institutional levels of Finnish northern art (literature) and science and especially, what consequences there have occurred in terms of northern cultural life.
Colours, Lights, Emptiness and other Discursive Elements The Colour White, a Sign of the North
Daniel Chartier (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Considering the “idea of North” as a discursive system, applied by convention to a given territory, we can identify some of the forms, figures and narratives that constitute the “grammar” of its cultural representations. This article focuses on the colours of the “North”, and on the simplification that underlies them. In literary and artistic works, we notice the strong symbolism of white, which obliterates points of reference. The notion of “whiteness” refers to a screen for an imaginary world and mask that covers the ugliness, which also has an ethical and aesthetic value that simplifies the world while accentuating anguish and extremeness. Thus, the colour “white” can be seen a one of the most powerful sign of the discursive system of the North, and as a tool to simplify the complexity of the northern territories.
Reshaping the North of Russia: Towards a conception of Space
Anna Stammler-Gossmann (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland)
This article analyses the understanding of the North in Russia as a spatial category, drawing on circumpolar characteristics and arguments. Basing on theories of space by Lefebvre and Foucault, space is treated as a geographic, mental and social category. I identify the main tendencies in the construction of northern space as reflected in recent academic and political debates in Russia, and analyse their relation to categories of spatial identity in the reality of Russia. This analysis enables us to evaluate the potential of a promoted Russian northern commonality in comparison to other alternatives for a uniting national idea. In conclusion, space acquires traits of elasticity and thus is broadly applicable as an idea at different levels of political and social identity construction.
Metropolis, the Southern Cone of Latin America and the AntarcticaRepresentations of the environmental problemsamong young inhabitants of Buenos Aires
Enrique del Acebo Ibáñez (Universidad del Salvador, Argentina)
On the basis of a theoretical socio-ecological and socioexistential discussion, together with a rootedness approach, the results obtained from an empiric research on young Buenos Aires City inhabitants, 15 to 25 year-old, are analyzed in order to check what are the representations about urban dwelling and the environmental problems not only in the city but also in the South Cone of Latin America and in the Antarctica. This population has been analyzed on the basis of the following variables: representations, perceptions, attitudes, and behavior with respect to their environmental problems thereof: in the city, the region and the Antarctica. Rootedness is considered as a “total” phenomenon: multidimensional and interdependent among its three dimensions (the spatial, the social, and the cultural dimensions), and also as an explanatory variable, together with anomie, participation, and consumerism.
Social Changes and culture in Icelandic Coastal villages
Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Iceland)
Coastal villages in Iceland which have always been characterized by transformation have in the last two decades been shaped by restructuring of the fisheries, new economic activities such as in tourism, and growing number of foreign laborers. The article examines social and economic transformations in coastal areas based on different research projects that were all based on field research in fishery based villages the northwest part of Iceland. My discussion brings forward some issues regarding the inhabitants’ changing perceptions of local culture during this time. In the last two decades the concept of culture has become an instrument of both local populations in marginal areas and ethnic groups all over the world with more knowledge of other people and other ways of living. Unlike before, culture is increasingly used in the villages in North West of Iceland to describe commonalities and diversities found within them. I illustrate how inhabitants of small villages talk about culture and how they show local culture to tourists. Furthermore with a growing population of foreign origin a conception of multiculturalism has appeared in the region which again makes the inhabitants more reflective of local culture of the region. These changes can only be understood if put into a global context. However it is important to combine a spatial perspective that sheds light on transnational connections with a historical one to understand the cultural transformations in the villages.
Visual construction of the indigenousness Finnish Lapland travellers’ photographs of the Saami people and culture
Miikka Pyykkönen (Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä)
Visual has always played an important role in representing cultures and ethnicities. “Us”, “them” and ethnic relations are constructed through visual representations in great part. This article focuses on active Lapland travellers’ photographs of the Saami people and culture. Aim of the study to which this article bases on, is to trace visual orders and gazes that are present in travellers’ photographs. The main question is how photographs identify the Saami people and their culture? Photographs and their connotations are analysed against the representations of the Saami in the Finnish Lapland travelling industry and historical travel literature. Active travellers’ photos do not simply repeat the gazes, representations and connotations, which are present in tourist industry and old travel tales. They also imply connotations, which break the old stereotypes and transmit “atmosphere of understanding” between the Saami and Finnish travellers.
Social Transformation, CrimePerceptions and the Role of theSocial SciencesA Personal Account from Iceland
Helgi Gunnlaugsson (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Iceland)
Iceland is in the midst of a radical transformation, both in terms of internal and external changes. On the heels of these changes Iceland has experienced an increase in the level of crime, associated with a deepening crime concern, especially with substance abuse. The social sciences have a decisive role in this process, to broaden the public and political debate on social problems by linking the crime situation to the changing social and economic order. Therefore, it is contended here that social scientists should aim to influence society and make their contribution serve as a basis for informed and sensible social policies. It is a vital role to speak out on public issues, backed up by the best literature with a vision of a better life for all of us.
Domestic economy and commodity trade among West Siberian Reindeer herders
Florian Stammler (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland & Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
This paper shows how seemingly contradictory concepts of economic activity among Arctic reindeer nomads are united under one livelihood. On the example of the velvet antler trade between nomads and Far Eastern businesspeople, I show how tundra people welcome integration in international trade. Their involvement in a rather recent economic activity shows how they cleverly manoeuvre in the arena of opportunities for diversified incomes. Nenets nomads make explicit distinctions between different spheres of production, as a result of which the nature of money becomes personalised: the source of income determines the sphere of spending. The argument is in this and other cases that involvement in global economy does not have to replace but rather supplements a solid basis of traditional subsistence or domestic market production.
The Challenges of Living off the Forest The Transformation of Forestry Sector in Northwest Russia
Uuve Södor (Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä)
Based on the rich, descriptive data of the existing ethnographic accounts this paper explores the aspects of resilience in three different forestry communities. According to the employed retrospective analyses the earlier success of those communities was formed since the time of early industrialisation by the symbiotic coexistence with a local harvesting enterprise. The period of turbulent transformations, however, significantly changes the livelihood patterns of the studied forestry settlements. The research focuses on the changes that the transformation of forestry sector has brought along. It also takes notice of the new trends related to the local employment, changing roles of forestry enterprises and forestry villages on the basis of extensive empirical research. The paper evaluates several topical issues of today’s forestry complex and provides insights into the current developmental pathways of today’s Russian forest industry from the perspective of forestry villages.