The Deatnu Agreement: a contemporary wall of settler colonialism

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The Deatnu River, located in Northern Scandinavia in the heart of Sápmi, is often regarded as one of the finest salmon rivers in Europe. In the 1751 Strömstad Peace Accord, the Deatnu river was made into an international boundary, becoming one of the oldest political borders in Europe. Since 1873, salmon fishing in the Deatnu River has been regulated by bilateral agreements negotiated between Norway and Finland. The most recent agreement was reached in 2017, in spite of a very strong, uniform opposition of the local population, Sámi and non–Sámi alike. This article considers the nature, effects and objectives of the 2017 Deatnu Agreement in the context of an international boundary. I suggest that the 2017 Deatnu Agreement is a figurative wall erected by the states of Norway and Finland in the context of the post–Westphalian order. The 'post–Westphalian order' is characterized by the erection of walls to define nation–state boundaries. Drawing on Elizabeth Strakosch' analysis of policy as a key strategy of settle colonialism and Lorenzo Veracini's concept of transfer, the article considers how this figurative wall is intended to target the Sámi people and how it is an emblem of Nordic settler colonialism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-528
JournalSettler Colonial Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Aug 2020
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Indigenous-settler relations
  • Nordic settler colonialism
  • Sami people
  • Scandinavia borders

Field of science

  • Social policy


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