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Contents:
  1. Servants in Rural Europe
  2. Measuring the Master Race
  3. Recent Posts
  4. Gender and Sexuality | Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology
  5. Travelling Texts 1790-1914: The Transnational Reception of Women’s Writing at the Fringes of Europe

But when Daa took over the professorship ten years later, he began expanding and renewing the museum. Daa believed that the museum had a special obligation to maintain a representative collection of Sami artefacts and to display Sami culture. He established an open-air exhibition featuring a replica Sea Sami farm in the garden of the university building, and in he undertook an ethnographic field trip to the Finnish-Norwegian-Russian border region along with his friend, the lappologist Jens Friis. He thought they had an inferior culture, but in line with his monogenist views, he did not consider this inferiority to be racially determined or immutable.

Daa believed that the Norwegians should help the Sami become civilised. Four of these were European and included both the Norwegian and the Sami cultures. During this transformation, the Norwegian and Sami collections assumed new meanings.

Servants in Rural Europe

While the Sami artefacts were kept at the Ethnographic Museum as objects of great interest, the Norwegian items were removed and transferred to a national museum of culture and history. The planned museum was meant to include the Norwegian rural artefacts, not as part of the ethnographic department, but as a separate exhibition connected to the National Antiquities Collection.

Cultural objects were displayed in an open-air museum, its old buildings located in a scenic landscape on the outskirts of the capital. The Norsk Folkemuseum was the first of a number of similar establishments established in Norway over the following decades. These museums have had a significant impact on Norwegian notions of cultural roots, and they became a key site for research into the material culture of pre-industrial society. This raises the question of whether this categorisation of Sami culture was based on notions of race.

Were the Sami considered an object of ethnographic research and a vanishing people because they were assumed to be culturally primitive, or because they were considered to be racially inferior? Yngvar Nielsen, the head of the Ethnographic Museum, gave a straightforward answer to this question.

Measuring the Master Race

It is important to note, however, that the ideas Nielsen advocated were not universally accepted. Over the next decade he spent a total of six years at German ethnographic museums, and he also visited the U. According to his successor, Gutorm Gjessing, Solberg did not adhere to any particular school of research. This attitude was especially typical of Franz Boas who, in the early decades of the century, engaged in a long-running campaign against scientific racism. The programme, which Solberg had designed, was based on the assumption that all the Arctic peoples, regardless of their racial roots, shared a common Arctic way of life.

As they were all forced to adapt to the harsh Arctic environment, there were basic similarities between their cultures across Norway, Russia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. According to this line of reasoning, though the Sami stood outside European civilisation, the essential dividing line was not racial, but rather the fact that the Sami belonged to an Arctic cultural region.

This implied that the Sami had lost their status as the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Scandinavian Peninsula. But at the turn of the century, even this assumption was contested. These were the forefathers of the dark, short-skulled Norwegian coastal dwellers in the south as well as the dark, short-skulled Sea Sami in the north. These nomads, the original Sami people, had not settled in Norway before the tenth century.

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One of his arguments was the existence of respectful descriptions of the Sea Sami written by Norwegians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His reasoning was based on a racial hierarchy with the long-skulled Aryans at the top, the Anaryans at a lower level, and the Sami at the bottom. Before Christianisation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Sami had a tradition of building burial sites in screes, where stone slabs were erected as roof and walls around the deceased. Nordvi had studied archaeology in Copenhagen and wanted to understand the pre-Christian burial customs of the Sami; he was not primarily interested in the skulls.

But in the s and s, he faced financial problems and began selling Sami skulls to scientific institutions. He dismissed established interpretations of ancient and medieval sources that were taken as evidence of ancient Sami presence, and he rejected established folkloristic theories about remnants of Norse mythology in Sami folk traditions, as well as linguistic theories about Norse or proto-Scandinavian loanwords in the Sami language which implied ancient Sami settlement in Scandinavia.

Kossinna linked cultural superiority to biologically superior races and assumed that cultures spread through human migration in particular through the spread of the Aryan-Germanic race. By analysing the spatial distribution of certain types of artefacts, in particular slate tools and a certain type of ceramics, he drew a boundary between two cultural areas: a dynamic southern Scandinavia connected southwards to the continent, and a more backward Arctic-Baltic area, later swallowed by the southern Scandinavian culture. The Arctic-Baltic Stone Age sites had been inhabited instead by a dolichocephalic people, who resembled the contemporary population in the assumed Scandinavian distribution area of the Arctic Stone Age.

Still, his reasoning was based on the assumed existence of such a correlation, and he also presupposed a racial hierarchy with the Sami at the bottom. He also noted that such an industry would have been difficult to combine with the life of nomadic reindeer herders. This implies that he believed that Sami culture, static and unchanged, had been defined by reindeer husbandry since the Stone Age, and that such a culture was inferior to that of the Arctic Stone Age.

Simultaneously, Solberg established beyond any reasonable doubt that there had been Sami settlements in Finnmark since the early eighth century at least. The settlements had already been excavated in the mid-nineteenth century by Andreas Nordvi, who had assigned them to a Sami Stone Age. His key evidence was a written source from the Viking age — a travelogue recorded by the English King Alfred in the ninth century.

The indigenousness or foreignness of the Sami were opposing arguments in the debate over the policy of cultural assimilation. This debate flourished after the turn of the century when additional pressure in favour of Norwegianisation provoked the rise of an ethno-political Sami movement. The negotiations, which continued until , were primarily over the traditional rights of the Swedish Sami to summer pastures in Norway; the Swedish government wanted to retain them, and the Norwegian government wanted them abolished.

In public debates he accused his academic opponents of lacking not only scientific rigour, but also patriotism; by assigning the Sami a more ancient presence in Norway than they themselves could rightly claim, his opponents weakened the bargaining power of the Norwegian government. The fact is that the government commissioned not Hansen, but his academic adversaries — Ole Solberg and the lappologists Konrad Nilsen and Just Qvigstad — as expert advisors in the negotiations with Sweden.

But though the government did not engage Hansen as a scientific expert in the reindeer-pasture negotiations, his research was still financed by the state, and even if his theories of Sami prehistory met with strong criticism from leading experts, they did not disappear into oblivion. These ideas were accepted as scientifically valid and were discussed within academic institutions, but this does not mean that they were scientifically uncontroversial, nor does it mean that Norwegian scholars in general championed a national ideology centred on the idea of a Germanic master race.


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The notion that Europeans could be split into a hierarchy of races was controversial, as was the idea of Norwegians as members of a Germanic elite among the European races. The Norwegians were commonly thought to have originated with groups of Germanic-speaking peoples who had settled in Norwegian territory during a long prehistoric period. These peoples did not, however, become Norwegians until they had cultivated the land and undergone a slow evolutionary process of adaptation to the Norwegian landscape. This process was construed as the establishment of a hierarchy of cultural-evolutionary levels, as the growth of a characteristic Norwegian national character and as an increasing and still ongoing social integration to certain national values.

It was common to assume that peoples could be ranked in a hierarchy from primitive to civilised, and even if there were differing views about the extent to which these distinctions were racially determined or culturally malleable, there were few who would totally rule out the significance of inherited racial characteristics. In addition, although not everyone supported the idea of a Germanic master race, few questioned the notion of white supremacy.

It was common to consider Norwegians racially superior to non-Europeans. The scholarly works we have discussed were all formulated within a frame of reference whereby peoples could be ranked in a hierarchy of evolutionary levels, but there were huge differences in the extent to which this hierarchy was considered racially-determined or not.

While race was irrelevant to Solberg when construing the boundary between the Sami and the Norwegians, it was the decisive criterion for Yngvar Nielsen and Andreas Hansen. The majority of other works were situated somewhere between these extremes, though in most cases race was given some significance in the delineation of the national community. Not only the Sami, but also other minorities, notably the Kvens and the Roma, were subjected to a harsh policy of assimilation from the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century.

This policy rested on the assumption that these peoples could, and should, be transformed into Norwegians, even though they were assumed to be racially different and even inferior. Thus, notions of huge racial difference were no impediment to the implementation of a hardline policy aimed at melting together different ethnic groups into an ethnically homogeneous Norwegian nation.

Ernst Sars og striden om norsk kultur Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, , p. Hansen, Om determinisme og moral. Foredrag den Den frisinnede studenterforenings foredrag og diskussioner I Kristiania: [n.

Gender and Sexuality | Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology

Den frisinnede studenterforenings foredrag og diskussioner II Kristiania: [n. Hansen, Norsk folkepsykologi: med politisk kart over Skandinavien Kristiania: Jakob Dybwad, , p. Sikkerhetsproblemer og minoritetspolitikk i nord Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, Cappelens, , pp. Ideene, institusjonen og forskningen Ph. En udsigt over bosettingens historie Kristiania: Fabritius, Samisk gravskikk og religion f. Hansen: articles appearing in the newspaper Verdens Gang on 16, 18, 19 March Skrifter, Videnskabselskapet i Kristiania, HF-kl. Kristiania: I kommisjon hos Dybwad, , pp. Hansen: articles in Verdens Gang , 16, 18, 19 March Creative Commons - Attribution 4.

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Travelling Texts 1790-1914: The Transnational Reception of Women’s Writing at the Fringes of Europe

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Open Book Publishers. When scholars deny the independent roles of culture and social structure, they see the discontinuities between them as instances of cultural and social disintegration. Geertz argues instead that discontinuities in a dynamic society are the result of a disharmony in the relationship between culture and social structure which ultimately creates social conflict -- not social or cultural disintegration.

By overestimating the simple functions performed by the immigrant church, by underplaying the dynamic nature of the society of which the immigrants were a part, in short by painting a romantic picture of the immigrant church, historians have failed to adequately address the relationships between the church, ethnicity, and conflict, and thereby have neglected an important source of social and cultural change.

A night in the life of a Norwegian woman (Catcalling in Oslo)

This case study examines a religious schism that occurred in a rural Minnesota Norwegian-American community in the late nineteenth century. After years of relative peace in the settlement, the community composed of regional subgroups that had settled together and 4 formed a Lutheran church experienced conflict resulting from a tension that became more pronounced as colonization continued and land resources became less abundant. Yet it was ultimately touched off by a theological schism that dramatically portrayed the secular and spiritual inequalities in a milleau that had been so often celebrated for its egalitarian features.

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In this instance, the church and its symbols did not reduce dissension and facilitate integration into the community, but actually intensified inter-ethnic group strife. The tension between the developing social structure and the cultural symbols of the church created a synergy that resulted in restructured community relationships and better articulated theological constructs.


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The morphology of the community, which will be examined first, was a source of potential conflict, but importantly so was the church, and it was the result of these elements working together that created a situation where the "church bells [rang] strife into the air. Colonists had to enter a region; land had to be obtained, and farms had to be built. As settlement continued, some ethnic settlements expanded, some contracted, and inter-nationality group contact increased as land became increasingly scarce.

The order in which a household entered the settlement colored its opportunity for land and. Wh1le the earliest households had ample land from 5 which to choose, their opportunities for primary group ties usually were more limited than those which followed.