Sweden’s North as a site for settler colonialism: Håkan Forsell, ‘Modernizing the Economic Landscapes of the North. Resource Extraction, Town Building and Educational Reform in the Process of Internal Colonization in Swedish Norrbotten’, International Journal of History, Culture and Modernity, 3, 2, 2015


Abstract: The article deals with two lines of economic and cultural development of the Swedish Norrbotten as a region subjected to a special exploitation and internal colonial power relations in the decades around 1900. It is in the first place the industrial modernization of basic industries and a modern employment market, which spurred the rapid urbanization of a landscape that previously barely created any urban areas. And second the article deals with the enlargement and the boundaries of the state’s educational territory during the same time-period. The position of the Sámi population in the new educational system that evolved with society’s gradual democratization is discussed within the context of internal colonization. Government policies in different areas such as urban planning, infrastructure, education and schooling based themselves in the beginning of the twentieth century on discussions of the Sámi’s ‘qualified dissimilarity’, a concept which also was meant to ‘protect’ this group. This was a government-sanctioned differentiation and a cultural segregationist policy to ensure a non-mixing of different societal and economic interests. But even more so, the purpose was to place the Sámi economic activities within cultural parenthesis, isolate the traditional way of life, devalue it and make it immutable and static, severing it from industrial development and the promises and materialization of modernity and progress.

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