Calotte Academy of 2021 was organized under the theme “New and Emerging Trends of Arctic Governance, Geopolitics, Geoeconomics and Science”. The Calotte Academy, called the "School of Arctic Dialogues", seemed a very fitting collaboration with our Dialogues and Encounters in the Arctic -project. The Calotte Academy has operated as a traveling symposium for 30 years, spreading over the European North Calotte area. The co-organizers have included Swedish and Norwegian as well as Russian partners, with whom this form of co-operation is now facing an uncertain future.
The idea of this academic symposium is to travel around the North Calotte area and stop in various locations, this year in Rovaniemi, Enontekiö, Kautokeino, Kirkenes, Sevettijärvi and finally, Inari, where the tour ended. Our team, comprising of myself, Teemu Loikkanen, researcher and a PhD- student, Saara Alakorva, a Sámi researcher and PhD-student, and Sanna Valkonen, Professor of Sámi research at the University of Lapland, were set to present our research on session 12: Collaborative Sámi research. The event took place in Sámi education institute, at Lassin Kota, traditional wooden hut with a fireplace in the middle of the room, although equipped with modern technology allowing us to present in a digital fashion. The participants on board in the Calotte Academy bus told us about their memorable trip to Kirkenes – the mountainous roads were so icy, that the bus had to stop and wait for someone to bring in tire chains, otherwise risking of driving into the steep gorges bordering the road. Luckily the people, as well as the bus survived the trip undamaged.
Within session 12: Collaborative Sámi research, our team had three separate presentations. First, Saara Alakorva presented of the topic “Art and science project SOPU providing counter information together with Sámi reindeer herders”. The project was about collaboration in the Muddusjärvi reindeer herding area, where there are ongoing conflicts between forestry and reindeer herding. Next, my presentation about Circular economy and Sámi food culture raised the issue of traditional Sámi way of life, which has mostly been circular. For instance, reindeers were utilized fully as food and handicraft – nothing was wasted. As Finland joined the EU in 1995, new regulations on slaughtering and handling of reindeer products were introduced. This was one part of the development that led to the abandoning of most of these practices. In this light, now that the EU is pushing for circular economy policies in the Sápmi area as well, it seems paradoxical to demand circularity on their terms. Sanna Valkonen’s presentation “Artistic collaboration in Sámi research” addressed the issue of collaborating with visual artists, filmmakers and rappers within the Sámi community. We were shown a music video by Ailu Valle and Amoc, Sámi rappers who have been revitalizing the Sámi languages, communicating stories and traditions to the new generation and participating in the art scene in many ways. This sparked a conversation about who can produce music in Sámi language and how we can separate cultural appropriation from simply appreciating and developing a culture you are not born into.
To conclude our presentations, there are various collaborative ways to do Sámi research. It can be contested collaboration, in which the Sámi reindeer herders have to produce their own information to counter institutions such as Metsähallitus. It can be a collaboration with Sámi and non- Sámi researchers, who can methodologically benefit from insider/outsider perspectives. Finally, it can be collaboration with artists to revitalize Sámi languages and traditions – to tell the stories to new generations as they have partly been lost due to decades of assimilation policies by the governments.
In the evening there was a grand gala dinner organized for us at the Sámi Museum Siida. While we were enjoying the dinner and wine, Toni Laine, Mayor of Inari Municipality gave an interesting speech about the Inari Municipality.
Finally, the main organizer and founder of the Calotte Academy, Lassi Heininen, and the editors Heather Exner-Pirot and Justin Barnes who attended online, spoke on behalf of publishing Arctic yearbook 2021. The “Selected Articles of Calotte Academy” publications consists of 54 scholarly articles from the annual academies in 1991-2019, and the Academy’s (first time) written history. A digital copy of the book can be downloaded for free from https://arcticpolitics.com.
The Calotte Academy of 2022 is well under way, and is set to be held in 10-18 of June 2022 under the title “The global Arctic today: cooperation & power politics, fossil economy & climate catastrophe, science & Indigenous knowledge”.
The collaboration of Dialogues and Encounters in the Arctic with Calotte Academy was fruitful and productive. In the same trip we had the chance to conduct several interviews with Sámi reindeer herders, hunters, restaurant owners and more.
Text: Teemu Loikkanen, University of Lapland