Association of Senior Anthropologists
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
By the time I first resided with reindeer-breeders in Norwegian Lapland in 1972-1976, change was already in the air. “Lapp” would become “Saami” in my dissertation title and “Lapland” would be “Saapmi”. In 1973 Pertti Pelto published the “snowmobile revolution”; subsidized housing brought plumbing indoors; younger generations inclined toward college and away from traditional subsistence activities. Within two decades, Saami populations across four nation-states established their own parliaments. Chernobyl reminded everyone of our shared and single planetary substrate.
Annual visits through the following four decades inexorably leads to the confirmation of familiar continuities, around the Brownian motion of reindeer and nomads—making it all the more crucial to impose analytical frames to discern the differences that make for difference—for individual lived realities alongside those significant for the society as a whole. One major epiphany occurred in the early 2000s as I assembled an entirely separate project, an anthology on the anthropology of violence. The editing and delays with publication took so much time that I considered adding a chapter about the Saami, intended to be a bold counterpoint to the varieties of violence documented elsewhere. That chapter materialized as one more narrative around violence, though, as I had to foreground the violence that the larger society imposes upon this ethnic minority, but also the violence that members of this minority impose upon their natural environments, leading me back to the ethnography of childhood, taking refuge from the realm of spurious public policies.