Indigenous reflexivity and resistance in global food activism: The case of Sápmi

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Amanda GreenORCID iD icon


Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

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Across the globe, people are working to document, revitalize, and in some cases, commodify heritage cuisines. Possibilities to engage in these projects for Sámi cuisines in Sweden are numerous, including the creation of cookbooks, artisanal food products, and culinary training programs. The goal of this article is to illustrate Sámi engagement with global food activism in order to advance scholarly understandings of the ways Indigenous peoples are confronting and utilizing global food activist frameworks to advance Indigenous sovereignty projects. Using detailed ethnographic description, this study makes clear that Sámi food activists subvert and embrace many of the associated trappings of food activism, including the well-documented issues of erasure, essentialization, and commodification. Hyper-reflexive engagement in projects to document, teach, and market Sámi cuisines allows participants to resist these outcomes, yet the process itself inevitably results in some erasures and essentializations. I conclude that Sámi food activism achieves limited forms of self-determination by enabling participants to reclaim and to teach Sámi cuisine in ways that advance Sámi cultural and economic sovereignty. Still, these engagements may undermine Sámi decision-making freedom by collaborating with national and transnational organizations driven by different motivations and philosophies. This analysis is based on ethnographic research with food producers and activists in Jokkmokk, Sweden, from 2011 to 2015.

Journal Title

Food and Foodways

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