Reply To: Mon 14 Apr: The Perception of the Environment

Author Replies # Posted on April 16, 2014 at 10:35

Reply on Gao’s reflection:

I agree with Gao that Ingold’s distinction between landscape and land is not really clear-cut and confusing. Nevertheless, I think he is right in his assumption that landscape and land are different in terms of what they represent: the quality and quantity of surface. Ingold writes: “You can ask of land, as of weight, how much there is, but not what it is like” (Ingold 2000: 190). You are right that land is countable, measurable and thus comparable and that it is part of the landscape. But as are forests, hills, buildings, lakes and rivers. You might be able to count the surface of all these things – but then you reduce them from living and non-living things to three-dimensional objects. Or in other words: you loose the quality of the landscape, that means the colour of the grass, the shape of the church’s rooftop or the ups and downs of a hilly area. You are right, land IS part of the landscape but only one small part that makes up something more complex in combination with others. Referring to your second critique, that seems to be a methodological question: if I can value one landscape over another only according to my individual preferences, it is not a standard that makes it countable for everyone, means it is not universal. Thus landscapes are not comparable in an objective way.

Coming to the other part of your reflection, I would defend the argument of some of our fellow students that there should be a third model for hybrid identities such as the “Stockholm Samí”. They might still have a strong connection to Sapmi or in other terms Norrlands but their major identification point seems to be their ancestry. However, you are right that the situation would be completely different if a Samí person would be forced to move much further from his “native land”. Then, I suggest, the extend to which they can feel as Samí would depend on the size of the group of “colonizing Samí” (a strange but interesting idea). As Ingold does not exclude living people from ancestry people could teach each other the basics of living, even in a different landscape. As long as it is not radically different than the Scandinavian of coruse – a Samí community in the Tansanian savanna would not remain long as such I think. Concerning your second critique: I agree with you that the Samí live in a quite good situation compared to other ethnic or indigenous minorities in other countries. However, we should not forget that the Samí have experienced very harsh oppression for decades, including forced sedentariness, marriages and the prohibition of the Samí language in the public sphere. And they still face the destruction of herding sates and ritual places by large mining projects which are backed up by the Swedish state (in Gallok for example). Here, Ingold’s hypothesis seems to be correct: the Samí cannot live there identities because Western companies and the Swedish state see them detached from the land they dwell in. I guess, the best we can do is to not generalize the ways of identification by indigenous people and always treat them as individual cases.