University of Oulu

Veli-Pekka Lehtola (2018) Our histories in the photographs of the others, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 10:4, 1510647, DOI: 10.1080/20004214.2018.1510647

Our histories in the photographs of the others : Sámi approaches to visual materials in archives

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Author: Lehtola, Veli-Pekka1
Organizations: 1Giellagas Institute, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-06-26


Returning old photographs to Sámi communities has been a part of modern repatriation policies, trying to recollect the Sámi heritage from museums, archives and collections outside the modern Sámi area. It is not only important to return items, such as photographs, but also to reconstruct the knowledge around them: to re-identify the old encounters and stories. The article suggests that the earlier interpretations have emphasised the inter-ethnic relations between the Sámi and the majority societies. When returned to local levels of Sámi communities, however, to be interpreted through the lenses of the Sámi subjects, the photographs tell multiple visualized stories about intra-ethnic “our histories”, the recent past of families, kinships and small Sámi communities. The article is based on my experiences and the projects that have been carried out in Finland in the past 15 years, repatriating photographs to Sámi societies.

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Series: Journal of aesthetics & culture
ISSN: 2000-4214
ISSN-E: 2000-4214
ISSN-L: 2000-4214
Volume: 10
Issue: 4
Article number: 1510647
DOI: 10.1080/20004214.2018.1510647
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Copyright information: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.