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Reproducing and shifting discourses on indigenous culture: Ethnographic self-descriptions of the Kola Sámi

Journal: RUDN Journal of Sociology (Vol.23, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 26-39

Keywords : indigenous culture; Kola Sámi; discourse; ethnographic self-description; text; partial connections;

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The article considers ethnographic self-descriptions as a cultural form in which indigenous authors conceptualise their culture in the shifting social contexts. Ethnographic selfdescriptions present (a) the transformation of the oral-discursive practices of indigenous culture into text; (b) the interpretation of the scientific versions of culture by indigenous authors. The author focuses on how Sámi culture is conceptualized in the text and as the written text by Sámi authors, taking into account the scientific descriptions of their culture and non-discursive cultural forms (such as ethnographic collections). In the texts of indigenous authors, anthropological versions of culture become a source for reproducing some patterns of culture’s conceptualization as relevant to a particular tradition in social sciences. Thus, ethnographic self-descriptions are interpreted in terms of intertextuality with an emphasis on relations between oral and written discourse, academic and indigenous discourse, discursive and non-discursive practices. Texts as a part of cultural reality or as elements of social events have causal effects which contribute to changes in the perception of Sámi culture and in the ways it is represented in the indigenous perspective, i.e., texts participate in the reproduction, creation and modification of numerous discourses on the Kola Sámi culture. In the ethnographic self-description of many Kola Sámi, ‘culture’ can be recontextualized by actors. Moreover, positions and identity of the observer (the author) and the observed (indigenous people) are partly connected, which implies a change in the epistemological status of the indigenous discourse. The processual approach to the cultural conceptualization and the focus on indigenous insights presented in the ethnographic self-descriptions constitute the methodological basis for examining some contemporary cultural trends of the Kola Sámi (Russia). The author analyses the published texts of the contemporary Kola Sámi authors, who are not professional anthropologists.

Last modified: 2023-03-17 07:33:20