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Raum, Recht und Indigenität – Zu den Kämpfen um Landrechte indigener Völker am Beispiel der Sámi in Finnland

Bernd Belina, Judith Miggelbrink


Schlagwörter: Raum, Lefebvre, Recht, Nation, Indigenität, Sámi, Finnland, Landrechte, Rentierhaltung


Space, Law and Indigeneity – On Indigenous Peoples’ Struggles over Land Rights, the Example of the Saami in Finland.


This paper discusses the relationship between space, law and indigeneity by building on the Lefebvrian conceptualization of the social production of space, a materialist understanding of law and critical theories of  nationalism and indigeneity. We argue that in Western nation-states indigeneity is seen as an important strategy and resource used by indigenous groups to legitimize their land claim rights. More specifically, the text looks at a confl ict between Saami reindeer herders, on the one side, and Metsähallitus, the Finnish government agency and wood  manufacturers, on the other, in which some herders used their indigeneity strategically in an international campaign. We discuss three ways in which (the discourse on) socially produced space was relevant in the conflict: first, how, in the light of definitions of indigeneity in international law, the claims to a specifi cally indigenous production of space through reindeer herding was disputed; second, how current regionalization affects reindeer herding and Saami rights; and, third, how continuing reindeer herding is necessary as a basis for Saami land claim rights. As demonstrated by the case study of Saami reindeer herders, we conclude by arguing that using indigeneity as a strategy results in messy disputes over history and identity that can have counter-productive effects for those using the strategy.

Keywords: space, Lefebvre, law, nation, indigeneity, Saami, Finland, land rights, reindeer herding


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