The Meaning of Forests: Linking Conflicting Views with Colonisation - A Narrative Analysis Exploring Internal Colonisation of Sápmi
Abstract: Sweden is a forest abundant country. The forestry sector is associated with the building of the welfare state and remains central to Sweden’s export industry and economy. However, large tracts of the forest are found in Sápmi – the homelands of the Indigenous Sami. Following the colonisation of Sápmi in the 17th century by the Swedish state, the Sami – Swedish relationship have become increasingly complex and remains so today. Despite Sweden having officially distanced itself from colonisation, voices from Sápmi contends that colonisation is still on-going, particularly in the context of natural resource exploitation. Using a combination of postcolonial theory and internal colonisation, this research delves into the complex Sami – Sweden relationship in the context of forests and forestry. It analyses two narratives which concern the relationship between people and forests to disclose continued colonial practises in Sápmi. In combining understandings of narrative as inherently linked with knowledge systems, in addition to their role in social and political life, the research uses narrative analysis to unveil how internal colonisation manifests in one Sami narrative on the environment and a Swedish narrative on the forest. The Swedish narrative is found in the strategy document for Sweden’s first national forest programme, whereas the Sami narrative is derived from the Sámediggi’s environmental programme Eallinbiras. The analysis and comparison of the two narratives discern the silencing of Sami voices and knowledges, and further illustrates struggles over land, resources, and jurisdiction in Sápmi. The findings constitute a challenge to colonial practises in Sweden and highlights the links between acknowledging Indigenous worldviews and decolonisation.
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