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  • Author or Editor: Asgeir Svestad x
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Abstract

Debates over the ethnogenesis of the Sámi and their historical presence in Fennoscandia have long affected scholarly and public discourses. More recently, these debates have been fueled by new propositions launched by Finnish linguists regarding the origin and development of the Sámi language. In this article, we target this corpus of linguistic research and the wide-ranging implications it suggests for the Sámi past. While based on historical and comparative linguistics data, a notable feature of the studies examined is that they also lean heavily on assumptions about the archaeological record in their reasonings. These assumptions, we argue, are, to a large extent, based on very limited or outdated knowledge of archaeological research on the Sámi past, and in particular, that of northern Norway. The article raises critical questions regarding the notions of cultural areas, ancestral homelands, and migrations that abound in these linguistic studies and challenges the a priori primacy assigned to language as the constituent of cultural identity. In conclusion, we outline a Sámi archaeological past that does not concur well with recent linguistic accounts and which, in the end, begs the question of whether this discrepancy can be reconciled and, if so, how this can happen.

In: Acta Archaeologica