The Sámi in the Spiral of Negative Social Developments of the Soviet North

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter discusses the late Soviet policies (1960s to 1980s) towards its Arctic Indigenous minorities, based on the case of the Eastern Sami who live in Northwest Russia. The chapter shows how large-scale Soviet social engineering tried to make remote populations more legible to the state by sedentarizing, relocating and reorganizing labor. Unforeseen and unwanted negative side effects, such as widespread social despondency, were the consequences. Based on an oral history inquiry and archival work, the chapter shows both sides: How the state tried to present negative social developments, such as substance abuse, as deficiencies of Indigenous individuals and how people tried to cope with this situation. The individualization of the negative amounted to finding scapegoats and avoiding discussions of larger social grievances and their true origins. As a result, displacement and the subsequent individualization of its negative social consequences considerably shaped the post-relocation Sámi world. The experiences of Soviet social transformation, especially relocation and boarding schools, considerably shaped the contemporary Sámi identity in Russia. The consequences of the patterns of individualizing social problems affected and still affect the Sámi society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sámi World
EditorsSanna Valkonen, Àile Aikio, Saara Alakorva, Sigga-Marja Magga
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003025511
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoEC publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Field of science

  • Social and Culture Antropology


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