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P-SAMISK-Program for samisk forskning

Truth and Reconciliation in a Democratic Welfare State: The Indigenous Sami, the Kven/Norwegian Finns Minority and the majority in Norway

Alternative title: Sannhet og forsoning i en demokratisk velferdsstat; samer, kvener/norskfinner og majoritetssamfunnet

Awarded: NOK 6.0 mill.

The TRUCOM project looks at how the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established to scrutinize the state's Norwegianisation policy of Sami, Kven/Norwegian Finns (and Skog Finns who were admitted later), interpreted and implemented its mandate, as well as how this is reflected in the commission's final report. The Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established by the Norwegian parliament in June 2018 and presented its final report in June 2023. The TRUCOM project has had a three-part approach: 1) look at the background for the creation of the commission, its mandate and composition, 2) study the commission's organization and administration, choice of procedure, method and the implementation of the work, and 3) finally analyze the commission's report and recommendations. The project entered part three after June 2023. Data has been collected continuously during the project period, in the form of documents and daily media monitoring, interviews with representatives of organizations and institutions that have been in contact with the commission during its work, and five surveys which have mainly covered the majority population. The project followed the commission's open meetings. In the current phase, the commission's final report is analyzed, among other things, with regard to which choices the commission has made in light of its mandate, how the commission understands injustice and reconciliation, which main focus the report has on the Norwegianization policy with respect to the state, majority and minoritiy groups, and how this is mirrored in the commission's proposals for measures. In 2023, two peer-reviewed articles have been published. Three other articles that have been submitted or accepted for publication in 2023. The project has prioritized dissemination by lectures, chronicles and has given interviews to the media. In October 2023, the project organized an international research conference with the title: Truth and Reconciliation processes in stable Democratic States - who, how and what happens after? The conference was a collaboration with the Canadian embassy, and the ambassador contributed at the opening. There were approximately 80 participants at the conference, and contributors were from Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, including members of the project's reference group. In the spring of 2023, TRUCOM arranged its second webinar where preliminary results of the research were communicated. About 60 people participated. The webinar was recorded and was available on TRUCOM's website for two months. In spring 2022, TRUCOM awarded a master's scholarship. The master's thesis was completed in May 2023. The research group consists of members from UiT Norway's Arctic University and Chr. Michelsen's Institute, who collectively have broad research expertise on Sami and Kven/Norwegian-Finn relations, and on international truth commissions. The reference group holds members from Canada, Finland, Sweden and Norway. From 2022 the TRUCOM project has had a scientific assistant/project consultant.

In 2017 the Norwegian parliament established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate centuries of repressive state policies towards the Indigenous Sami and Kven/Norwegian Finns minority. TRUCOM will research how and in what ways the Norwegian TRC will lay the foundations for truth and reconciliation between the Sami and the Kven/Norwegian Finns on the one hand, and the majority population on the other. Introductorily the history, politics and processes prior to the TRC’s establishment will be addressed in a desk study. Simultaneously drawing on truth commission experiences from elsewhere in the world, the follow-up research will provide in-depth analysis by tracking the processes as they unfolds. This is the core of TRUCOM, and includes research on expectations to the TRC, who mobilizes around issues addressed by the TRC and how do various stakeholders influence the TRC’ work. Finally, the TRC’ findings and recommendations forwarded in the final report by analyzing the link between the TRC’ mandate, the TRC’ final report and the project’ findings, amongst other how important issues were handled by the TRC and whether the recommendations align with the mandate. Theoretically, TRUCOM will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the work of truth commissions in established democracies. It will contribute theoretically to debates on the relationship between the state - indigenous people - minority, and debates on the significance of TRCs for indigenous and minority rights. Methodologically, the project employs novel ways to assess a TRC process by combining observations through participation at hearings, interviews, and surveys of central stakeholders at regular intervals. Empirically, the project will establish a knowledge foundation on pathways of reconciliation between majority, indigenous people and minority groups in established democracies with welfare states.

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

P-SAMISK-Program for samisk forskning