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P-SAMISK-Program for samisk forskning

Indigenous homemaking as survivance: Homemaking as cultural resilience to the effects of colonization and assimilation.

Alternative title: Urfolk og hjemmets betydning for kulturell overlevelse: Kulturell resiliens mot effektene av kolonisering og assimilering.

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

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2021 - 2026

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Creating a home is one of the most important things we humans do. In this project, we will explore the importance of the home, both its architecture, interior, activities and people, for cultural survival among Sami and Inuit in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland. We will examine how the housing and welfare policy pursued by the authorities contributed to the assimilation of indigenous peoples indirectly, by not taking sufficient account of indigenous peoples' everyday lives and needs. Although the various states have pursued different policies, our comparative perspective will give insight into how there are similarities regarding the housing and welfare policies that the Scandinavian states have pursued, and the effects of these politics. The most extreme example here is the burning of Finnmark and North Troms during World War II, where local communities were wiped out and rebuilt according to the principles of the Norwegian welfare state. Also in other local communities, Sami and Inuit have experienced that centralization, housing and welfare policy have contributed to deprive people of their traditional homes and make their culture invisible. Still, the culture did survive! We also want to find out how people have managed to take care of their culture despite this, both in the past and present, by creating a home where their culture could survive. We will do qualitative interviews, observations, photo and document studies of homes and housing policy. Part of the project will also be external, where we through seminars, campaigns in social media and photo exhibitions will help to focus on the importance of the home for Indigenous peoples in their everyday lives. Through the project, we want to develop perspectives that can create resilience, hope and creativity for cultural survival on Indigenous peoples' terms.

In this project, we will explore how Sámi and Inuit homemaking as an everyday life practice is a form of cultural resilience after the effects of assimilation, colonization and post-war welfare policies such as housing policies in the Scandinavian countries. While there has been extensive research on the direct assimilation policies, much less attention has been given to often well-meaning welfare and housing policies and its impact on the further elimination of Indigenous cultures. In addition to sharing some basic features regarding history, language, culture, welfare and politics, the Scandinavian countries also are similar in the sense that the debates regarding colonization have mostly been concerned with cultures and societies in former colonies in non-European territories. This "innocent" image has silenced the internal colonization and assimilation of the Indigenous Sámi and Inuits. We argue that homemaking is a curiously overlooked practice in research that needs attention, since it is a practice that exists in the intersection between individual agency and larger cultural, ontological and political structures. Politics is shaped and reshaped through the reality that we live. A home is more than just a shelter, it is a space for individuals, families and guests to create a sense of belonging in the world, and one of the most fundamental material and cultural practices. Through an interdisciplinary research design, we will post-war welfare and housing policies and its impact on Indigenous everyday life, and how homemaking as a practice in the past and present can be analyzed through the lenses of cultural resilience, survivance and decolonization. We as researchers also have an ethical responsibility to produce knowledge beyond victimization. We need to create knowledge that can contribute to resilience, hopes, visions and creativity of lived Indigenous lives.

Publications from Cristin

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P-SAMISK-Program for samisk forskning