University of Oulu

Hannu I. Heikkinen (2021) Holding ground and loitering around: long-term research partnerships and understanding culture change dilemmas of indigenous Saami, Time and Mind, 14:3, 459-474, DOI: 10.1080/1751696X.2021.1951559

Holding ground and loitering around : long-term research partnerships and understanding culture change dilemmas of indigenous Saami

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Author: Heikkinen, Hannu I.1
Organizations: 1Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 18.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-08-13


Indigenous peoples live their modernity alongside majority populations and global change processes. This is the case with indigenous Saami who descend from a long lineage of nomadic reindeer-herding families and who now live and herd reindeer in and around the small tourism town of Kilpisjärvi (Gilbbesjávri), Finland. Saami reindeer nomadism was a highly mobile way of life at the turn of the twentieth century. However, as many Saami now live a more settled life, their culture is in constant danger of becoming engulfed by various developments, including tourism and the various forms of land use. This essay focuses on longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork in the region and on its dynamic changes. The essay illustrates the Saami struggle, not just with holding their ground with respect to other interest groups, but also with how their actions aim to maintain local visibility of their culture, while also ensuring a respect towards a right to agency and to culture change on their own terms. The essay’s methodological findings emphasise the importance of both long-term research partnerships and of participant observation in ethnographic work, stressing how attentive “loitering around” may lay the groundwork for other forms of research methodologies and auxiliary research materials.

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Series: Time & mind
ISSN: 1751-696X
ISSN-E: 1751-6978
ISSN-L: 1751-696X
Volume: 14
Issue: 3
Pages: 459 - 474
DOI: 1751696X.2021.1951559
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
615 History and archaeology
5141 Sociology
Funding: This work was supported by University of Oulu and TransArct spearhead research project funded by Eudaimonia institute and Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities (REXSAC) – A Nordic Centre of Excellence funded by Nordforsk.
Copyright information: © 2021 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-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.