Russian Sámi in Nordic media

The Norwegian Barents Secretariat‘s internet-based newsservice BarentsObserver recently interviewed a representative of the project team about the purpose of our project, and some of our findings. The article is available in English and Russian. The interview was also cited on Finugor.ru (Russian) and on the website of NRK Sámi Radio (Norwegian).

The interview focuses on Mikkel Berg-Nordlie’s study of Nordic (mainly Norwegian) print media’s discourses on the Russian Sámi. The group is typically framed as ‘victims’ who are dependent on Western assistance. This discourse exaggerates the problems of the Russian Sámi, and undercommunicates the degree to which the Russian Sámi are active in Russian civil society and politics. There is indeed a general lack of information in Nordic Sámi-oriented media about the nature of Russian Sámi politics and civil society, the structure of which is significantly different from that found on the Nordic side of the border.

PS: The project team wishes to emphasize that our work with this subject began in late 2009, and not in 2008 as the text on Finugor.ru claims.

The Barents Region consists of thirteen ‘provinces’ of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The region’s indigenous peoples are also involved in the cooperation (see: www.barentsindigenous.org). On the map, blue indicates the Barents region, red is Sápmi and violet indicates the part of Sápmi that lies within the Barents region. (Map: modified from Wikimedia Commons).

What are we doing?

About the project

Disclaimer: The project described below is finished. This website is now being used to spread information about academic production on Russian Sámi issues, written by NIBR researchers, which is not necessarily produced as part of the original project.

The goal of the project is to produce new knowledge about Sámi politics and Sámi policy in Russia, and the relationship between the Western and Russian Sámi.

In the course of the project, three fieldwork expeditions will be performed (two in Russia, one in the Nordic countries), as well as extensive document studies. Among the end products are to be:

– Two or three articles published in academic journals, on contemporary Russian Sámi politics.

– Publishing of a book on the beginning of the modern Russian Sámi movement (1980s and 1990s).

– An open seminar on Russian Sámi politics.

– An ECPR workshop on indigenous politics.


Books on display at the Sámi National Cultural Autonomy
in Monchegorsk. Photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie


Russian field work finished

The project’s field expeditions to Russia have now been completed. The field trips were done in December 2009 (Jørn Holm-Hansen and Mikkel Berg-Nordlie) and April-May of 2010 (Mikkel Berg-Nordlie). Interviews have been done in seven different locations, including: Apatity, Kirkenes, Loparskaya, Lovozero, Monchegorsk, Murmansk, Olenegorsk.

We are deeply grateful to all the people who have shared with us their experiences and points of view. Furthermore, we wish to give thanks to the people at the Murmansk State Pedagogical University’s Faculty of Intercultural Communication, Language Theory and Journalism for providing important help in organizing the field work.


National Culture Centre, Lovozero, Murmansk Province. Photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie

ECPR Workshop

Workshop on Indigenous Politics in St. Gallen, 2011

NIBR is happy to announce that the Institute for Social Research (Jo Saglie), the University of Auckland (Ann Sullivan) and us will be organizing a workshop at the ECPR Joint Session of Workshops in St. Gallen, Switzerland in 2011. The subject of the workshop will be Indigenous Politics: Mobilization, Representation, Internationalization. For more information, please read the abstract below.

We invite researchers from all disciplines and all countries to participate in the workshop. Deadline for applications is December 1, 2010. More information on how to apply will be be published later, both on ECPR’s homepages and here.

Abstract: Indigenous politics – Mobilization, Representation, Internationalization

Over the last fifty years, indigenous politics has become an increasingly important subfield of political science. The acknowledgment of indigenous rights in a growing number of states provides new opportunities for comparative research. There are competing and complementary ideas about what is best for indigenous peoples and society as a whole. How are those ideas articulated or resolved?

Firstly an increasingly visible indigenous mobilization has taken place. Indigenous peoples have applied and adapted many similar strategies for their key issues of self-determination, natural resource guardianship, resource ownership and customary rights. Secondly nation-states have responded to indigenous demands for self-determination in different ways: separate institutions have been created for indigenous political representation, and arrangements and processes for indigenous peoples have been established within existing institutions. Thirdly modern indigenous politics has through decades of border-transcending cooperation developed an internationalized nature through conferencing, participating in international forums and establishing international organizations. Furthermore, many indigenous groups have developed specific international strategic behaviours when in conflict with their states.

The workshop welcomes papers on these three aspects of indigenous politics – political mobilization and participation, representation mechanisms and international cooperation – and the interplay between them. We look for in-depth case studies, as well as papers that compare the political processes of different indigenous groups in any of these three areas. The overall aim of the workshop is to facilitate new research into the topic outlined here, and create a strong and collaborative network between European and other researchers working in the discipline of indigenous politics.


Eastern Sápmi: The Borderland and its People

When you drive between Murmansk and Kirkenes, you are travelling through an area thick with Sámi – and world – history. Read our on-the-road account of Eastern Sámi history at the NIBR International Blog.


Who are we?

About the team

Disclaimer: The project described below is finished. This website is now being used to spread information about academic production on Russian Sámi issues, written by NIBR researchers, which is not necessarily produced as part of the original project.

Russia in Pan-Sami politics is a project headed by researchers from the International Department of the Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), with the Norwegian Institute of International Politics’ (NUPI) Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies participating as a consortium partner. The Murmansk State Pedagogical University‘s Faculty of Intercultural Communication, Language Theory and Journalism (MPGU, Russia) is also involved in the project. Furthermore, one part of the project also involves a cooperation with the Institute for Social Research (ISF, Norway) and the University of Auckland (New Zeeland). The project advisors are from the University of Lapland (UL, Finland) and the University of Tromsø (UiTø, Norway).

The following people are involved in the project:


Jørn Holm-Hansen, team leader.

Mikkel Berg-Nordlie.


Indra Øverland


Aleksandra Butylova

Olga Ivanishcheva

Inna Ryzhkova

Yuliya Shestova


Jo Saglie


Ann Sullivan

We also draw on the expertise of the following project advisors:

Leif Rantala, UL

Elisabeth Scheller, UiTø



The project ‘Russia in pan-Sámi politics’, which is financed by the Norwegian Council of Scientific Research, now has its own homepage. Here, we will publish news about our activities, publications and findings.