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Umeå Arctic Seminar May 2019

Time Friday 10 May, 2019 at 12:00 - 13:00
Place Universitetsklubben, Umeå University

Åsa Össbo, Postdoctor at Centre for Sami Research (Cesam) - Vaartoe, will hold a seminar about Hydropower company sites: A study of Swedish industrial settler colonialism.

The settler colonial perspective has thus far gained modest attention from scholars analyzing the relations between the Swedish state and the Indigenous Sámi people throughout history. This seminar explore the perspective of settler colonialism on the Swedish state’s relation to the Sámi people through the case of hydropower expansion. I argue that the hydropower invasion beginning in the 1910’s constitute a reinforced Swedish settler colonialism ultimately shown in the hydropower “company town” Porjus.

This industrial colonialism in Swedish hydropower politics and practice compose a continuous settler colonial policy with a genealogy from the passing of the ‘Lappmarks Placat’ in 1673 when agrarian settlers of Swedish or Finnish origin were encouraged to take up farmstead settlements and populate areas conceived as almost uninhabited. The regulation was updated in 1695 and in 1749. During the 19th century several policies as well as administrative practices invisiblised and devastated Sámi self-determination and land rights. At the turn of the century the reindeer grazing acts of 1886, 1898 and 1928 finally regulated Sámi livelihoods and disconnected many Sámi from the rights that the Swedish state had defined and reserved for reindeer herding Sámi. When Sámi land rights had been devalued and westernized, the time was due for a new colonial policy, a policy promoting industrial extraction of hydroelectricity from the rivers of Sápmi.

Apart from forestry, no other venture in Swedish colonial history has devastated the same amount of Sámi lands within Sweden as the expansion of hydropower. This industrial colonial policy is also a settler colonial structure since hydroelectric power until this day compose the backbone of the Swedish energy system and settle the landscape within its regimes. A shift of perspective, from colonialism to settler colonialism, can give important tools for Indigenous groups as well as for decision-makers and industry on how to work towards decolonization.

The seminar will be in English and since we at Arcum offers a light lunch, we wish that you to register your participation before Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Please use the form below.

Event type: Seminar
Staff photo Åsa Össbo
Åsa Össbo
Research fellow
Read about Åsa Össbo
Anngelica Kristoferqvist
Read about Anngelica Kristoferqvist
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