Skolt Sami and industrialization

State-Directed Territorialization and Commodification in the Arctic Borderlands



This article shows how the Finnish state, in connection to international actors, has advanced industrialization, territorialization, and commodification on the Skolt Sami home grounds, and how the Skolt Sami people’s nature-linked livelihood activities have changed or become threatened in connection with these processes. The theoretical starting points of the article sheds light on territorialization and the power practices of the state, and on commodification (i.e. the development of industrial economic features). The three cases of territorialization and commodification discussed in this article are the following: (1) the industrialization of the Petsamo area until1944, (2) the industrialization of reindeer herding from 1995 on, and (3) the Arctic Ocean railroad plan in 2016–2021. The article argues that international factors have significantly influenced the process of state-directed territorialization, which on several occasions has divided the Skolt Sami. Furthermore, the article claims that in the process of commodification, despite having changed, traditional nature-related livelihood activities are important for the continuity of the Skolt Sami way of life.

Keywords: Skolt Sami, livelihoods, reindeer herding, natural resources, state, industrialization

How to Cite

Itkonen, P. (2021). Skolt Sami and industrialization: State-Directed Territorialization and Commodification in the Arctic Borderlands. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 46(1), 59–76.