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The Modern State and the Re-Creation of the Indigenous Other: The Case of the Authentic Sámi in Sweden and the White Man’s Indian in the United States of America.

By Luca Zini


The present study comparatively examined the socio-political and economic transformation of the indigenous Sámi in Sweden and the Indian American in the United States of America occurring first as a consequence of colonization and later as a product of interaction with the modern territorial and industrial state, from approximately 1500 to 1900. The first colonial encounters of the Europeans with these autochthonous populations ultimately created an imagery of the exotic Other and of the noble savage. Despite these disparaging representations, the cross-cultural settings in which these interactions took place also produced the hybrid communities and syncretic life that allowed levels of cultural accommodation, autonomous space, and indigenous agency to emerge. By the nineteenth century, however, the modern territorial and industrial state rearranges the dynamics and reaches of power across a redefined territorial sovereign space, consequently, remapping belongingness and identity. In this context, the status of indigenous peoples, as in the case of Sámi and of Indian Americans, began to change at par with industrialization and with modernity. At this point in time, indigenous populations became a hindrance to be dealt with the legal re-codification of Indigenousness into a vacuumed limbo of disenfranchisement. It is, thus, the modern territorial and industrial state that re-creates the exotic into an indigenous Other. The present research showed how the initial interaction between indigenous and Europeans changed with the emergence of the modern state, demonstrating that the nineteenth century, with its fundamental impulses of industrialism and modernity, not only excluded and marginalized indigenous populations because they were considered unfit to join modern society, it also re-conceptualized indigenous identity into a constructed authenticity

Topics: Sámi, Indigenous Identity, Indigenous Space, Ethnic Identity, Sweden, Indigenous Policy, United States, Native Americans, Modern State, Exotic Other, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Other Political Science
Publisher: FIU Digital Commons
Year: 2015
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