Narratives of identity

Saami identity in the Swedish cultural memory

  • Amanda Tilia Marie Björkman Student


Sweden portrays itself as a champion of human rights. Simultaneously, it violates the rights of its indigenous Saami population. To understand the dynamics of this duplicity, this interdisciplinary study explores how Saami identity is constructed and perceived in Swedish cultural memory. Avril Bell’s (2014) theory of thesettler imaginary is applied to analyse the narrative on Saami identity in Swedish school textbooks, legislation, political debates, and its historical context. The findings indicate that Saami identity, in Swedish cultural memory, has been constructed by Swedish settlers as authentic, static and incompatible with the majority of society. This image is perpetuated in the present day’s educational and political institutions. Implications of such an image are reflected in discrimination against the Saami.