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Published: 2019-05-28 Updated: 2019-11-15, 09:47

Ekaterina Zmyvalova reports from fieldwork in Russia

NEWS In autumn 2018 postgraduate student Ekaterina Zmyvalova at the Department of Language Studies was granted strategic funding from Arcum to perform fieldwork in Lovozero and Murmansk, Russia. Read her report from her trip below.

My PhD thesis is devoted to teaching of the Sami language in the school in Russia and schools in Sweden, and also to the preservation of the language via teaching it at school. From the 8th of April to the 19th of May 2019 I made a field trip to Russia to collect data for my thesis.

I worked with archives in the city library of Arkhangelsk, as well as in the village of Lovozero in the Murmansk region, which is the place where most of the Russian Sami live. I also worked in the city of Murmansk. The only Russian school where the Sami language is taught is located in the Lovozero village. In Lovozero I met with school representatives, such as the head of the school and teachers, and also the parents of the children learning the Sami language. The meetings in Murmansk were devoted to interviewing people whose knowledge is useful for my research. I met politicians who are decision-makers on the issues of Sami language teaching at school, and writers and researchers on the Sami language, etc. The trip has been a necessary step in collecting data for my thesis. Without this trip, I would have lacked important data for the objective judgments and verifications of my tentative conclusions.

The situation of Sami language teaching in Lovozero changes constantly.

My preliminary assessment, which still needs to be confirmed through in-depth analysis, is as follows. The situation of Sami language teaching in Lovozero changes constantly. These changes concern the unstable situation with teachers quitting their jobs every year and changes in the content of the study programs, etc. At present, the statistics show that relatively, many children learn the Sami language. Yet, in fact the situation is far from optimal. The Sami language is taught as non-obligatory subject from the first to the fifth grade once a week. The situation of Sami language teaching is impacted by many factors like internal challenges within the Sami community, discussions on the Sami alphabet, increasing interest to foreign languages such as English, German, the Northern Sami , etc.

This summer I plan to dedicate my time to the analysis of the collected data.​

Ekaterina Zmyvalova
Doctoral student