Negotiating History: Photography in Sámi Culture

It has been stated that the Sámi population is among the most photographed people in the world. Hardly any cultural form of expression has been more formational for general perceptions and conceptions of the Sámi than photography. In spite of this, photographs in the Sámi context have remained largely unexplored.

Negotiating History: Photography in Sami Culture is a collaborative research project studying the role and position of Sámi photographs in the past and present by bringing together three distinct but interrelated empirical fields:

  • Mapping photographs from the Sámi area kept in multiple and dispersed archives, museums and other institutions in Norway and abroad. Analyzing and discussing the photographs, in relation to their contextual anchoring, their distribution, circulation and various uses through time and space.
  • Exploring new uses of historical photographs in the contemporary society, both within and outside institutional frames: in memory projects; as a means of self-recognition; as cultural activism, politics of identity and self-determination. Essential venues are museum exhibitions, publications and digital media.
  • Studying the recirculation of historical photographs and other uses of photography within Sámi contemporary art. How do Sámi artists use photography in their exploration of history and renegotiation of the past? How do they critically approach ‘Sáminess’ and Sámi identity in our time?

This project is fully funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) through the programme for Sámi Research II. It is administered from the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies (LLE), University of Bergen.

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International Conference 7.-8. September 2017: Indigenous Photography Studies: Current Developments and Challenges


Negotiating History: Photography in Sami Culture holds its final conference Indigenous Photography Studies: Current Developments and Challenges in Tromsø, 7.-8. September 2017.

The conference features scholarly and artistic contributions on indigenous photography from a Sámi, Nordic and a broader international perspective.

Venue: The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø. Organized by the Project. All interested are welcome!