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date: 15 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This paper examines the historical transformation of hunter-gatherer cultures in northern Europe after 1500 AD, focusing in particular on the Sámi. It investigates the effects of culture contacts associated with the development of the fur trade, the rise of full-scale reindeer pastoralism, and also explores how contacts between the Sámi and colonizing farmers were structured by local environmental factors. The analysis demonstrates how the Sámi have a very dynamic history and been able to adopt different economic and social strategies in diverse geographical and historical settings, all of which undermines current assertions of a unified and timeless Sámi ethnic identity that is closely linked to reindeer herding. Broadly similar trajectories of historical transformation can be noted right across northern Eurasia, although detailed coverage of this material remains beyond the scope of this paper.

Keywords: Sámi, Lapps, fur trade, slash-and-burn cultivation, reindeer pastoralism, identity, politics

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