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Between Utopia and Dystopia: Colonial Ambivalence and Early Modern Perception of Sápmi

  • Magdalena Naum

Abstract

The northernmost regions of Fennoscandia attracted attention of travellers and geographers for centuries. These regions were often imagined in ambivalent terms as homelands of evil and dearth or as places of true happiness. From the seventeenth century onwards, Sápmi (Lapland) became a destination of regular exploration undertaken by Swedish and foreign travellers. These travels made it possible to verify, dismiss, or authorize all that what was previously only speculated about, and ultimately led to the construction of new sets of representations. This paper studies the modes of imagining Sápmi in early modern writing, explores how these were intertwined with state programs in the region, and how the rhetoric and ideological underpinnings of the representations authored by the domestic authors differed from the visions of Sápmi produced by contemporaneous foreign travellers.

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Magdalena Naum is an Associate Professor at the Department of Archaeology, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research interests include medieval and early modern migration and early modern Scandinavian colonialism. She has published a number of articles on these subjects and she co-edited Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity (Springer 2013). The presented research has been conducted within the context of a project entitled “Understanding the Cultural Impacts and Issues of Lapland Mining: A Long-Term Perspective on Sustainable Mining Policies in the North” financed by the Academy of Finland. I would like to thank Vesa-Pekka Herva and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article, and Lincoln Paine for copyediting.

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Between Utopia and Dystopia: Colonial Ambivalence and Early Modern Perception of Sápmi

  • Magdalena Naum

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