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Title: Perception, tradition and environment among Sami people in northeastern Finland
Author: Mazzullo, Nuccio
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 7035
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis is a study of the Sämi community in the village of Inari in northeastern Finland. Through the study I address the following issue: is there any fundamental difference in the way Sämi people relate to the environment compared to neighbouring communities, and to people of socalled "Western" societies? Following recent studies of indigenous peoples of the circumpolar North, my analytical approach hinges upon the principle that the landscape is important in fashioning people's sense of identity and as a repository of their traditions. The natural world is not understood as standing apart from the domain of human social life, but rather as continuous with it. For this reason, no absolute distinction can be drawn between relations with human beings and relations with non-human components of the environment. Hence the question is: what is the relationship between the Sämi people and the environment they inhabit? I argue that this relationship is indeed very intimate, despite numerous technological changes that have affected the ways in which people talk about, engage with and move in it. I also argue that there are subtle differences between their approach and that, for example, of the Finnish community, whose cultural background lies in farming. 6Overall, this study demonstrates that although a number of ecological, cultural and social variables substantially affect the ways people relate to the environment, the connections between these variables are not based on simple cause and effect. Intentionalities shape the quality of these interactions in unpredictable ways. Hence perceptions, identities and traditions are dynamic and continually under construction. Conflicting views on these issues are also very prominent in Sämi life. Their importance lies in the ways they guide people's understandings of their actions in the landscape, both socially and environmentally. Finally, this study further suggests that any ontological division between humanity and nature should be abandoned if we are to pursue environmental policies that realistically address northern native peoples' practical engagement with the diverse constituents of their familiar environments. Such an approach affords the possibility not only of a much richer ethnographic appreciation of indigenous cultures, but also a powerful critique of our own 'Western' assumptions. It also raises the critical problem of understanding how the indigenous perspective responds to the ever-increasing involvement of native people with such 'Western' institutions as the nation state, the market and the Church
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available