Settler colonialism is Sápmi: Alva Blomkvist, Gendering Ethnicity: Colonialism and Structural Violence in the Swedish 1928 Reindeer Grazing Act, MA dissertation, Linnaeus University, 2022


Abstract: This thesis examines how the gendering of ethnicity in the Swedish Reindeer Grazing Act of 1928 (RBL 1928) was part of a colonial structure of violence. The research context in which this thesis places itself is in the intersection of previous scholarship on the colonial interest in controlling Indigenous marriage, and scholarship on Swedish colonial history in Sápmi. The theoretical framework for the thesis is made up by an understanding of violence, settler colonial extinction in fact, intersectionality, and control over women’s reproduction as intertwined phenomenon. The study consists of an analysis of the law in question using a feminist policy analysis and the method ‘What’s the problem represented to be’; as well as a source critical reading of archival materials such as magazine clippings, protocols, legal decisions, letters, questionnaires, and transcribed interviews with Sámi interviewees. RLB 1928 gendered ethnicity so that Sámi women who married non-Sámi men lost their reindeer herding rights, and with that their Sáminess. This is a form of epistemic violence, changing the way Sámi women can relate to their Sáminess. The effects the provision in RBL 1928 controlling marriage had on Sámi women were both economic and social. The economic violence that Sámi women were exposed to consisted of access to land as well as material property being taken from them. When women lost their juridical Sáminess, they risked being isolated from their communities and culture, making out a form of violence here framed as violence of exclusion. The gendering of ethnicity also affected the Sámi society as a whole, as it posed a threat of extinction in fact of the Sámi population.

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