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The sense of time in the north: A Sámi perspective

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Abstract

This paper refers to some aspects of the theoretical anthropological debate on the perception of time and I shall argue, following Ingold (2000) that amongst the Sámi people time is understood as an unfolding of interrelated tasks, rather than as a linear succession of standardised and arbitrary units. I also argue that the Sámi perception of time is not opposed to the western perception, but rather entails a different approach to the significance of clock time. The results of my fieldwork, conducted among the Sámi people in Finnish Lapland, lend support to the idea that the basis for a people's shared understanding and subjective experience of time lies in the interaction of skilful agents in carrying out diverse but interrelated tasks. It is not sufficient to live in a place, to belong to a particular ethnic group or to be engaged in the same subsistence activity to perceive time in a certain fashion. No matter how much we change the combination of actors, the perception of time is generated in each case through situated activity within the landscape.

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... In more recent times, Mazzullo (2012) found that the Sami people of Finland constructed their experience of time around a set of interrelated tasks, a taskscape. Mazzullo (2012) explained that unless the activity was related to school or other official timetabled activity, many of the Sami people were very relaxed about punctuality. ...
... In more recent times, Mazzullo (2012) found that the Sami people of Finland constructed their experience of time around a set of interrelated tasks, a taskscape. Mazzullo (2012) explained that unless the activity was related to school or other official timetabled activity, many of the Sami people were very relaxed about punctuality. For example, during the herding months, farmers would rarely look at their watches to determine how much time they needed to work and instead "it was the accomplishment of the tasks that would take precedence, though quick naps could be taken everywhere and anytime" (Mazzullo, 2012, p.217). ...
... The perception of time and space among indigenous northerners is part of their specific culturally embedded practice on the land [95]. There is a clear awareness among them that the extractive industry presence in the Russian Arctic and sub-Arctic is a rather short intermezzo in the long history of human habitation on the land. ...
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Perception, tradition and environment among Sámi people in northeastern Finland. Unpublished PhD dissertation
  • N Mazzullo