Arctic frontiers: rethinking Norse-Sámi relations in the Old Norse sagas

Barraclough, E.R (2017) 'Arctic frontiers: rethinking Norse-Sámi relations in the Old Norse sagas.' Viator, 48 (3). pp. 27-51. ISSN 0083-5897

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In recent years, scholars from across the disciplines have moved towards a more nuanced consideration of frontier and marginal zones in terms of cross-cultural encounters and hybrid identities. This study focuses on the medieval Arctic borderlands, and particularly the relationship between the Norse and the Finnar (broadly equated with today's Sámi). The traditional stereotype ascribed to the Finnar was of a nomadic, pagan, magical people. Much of the scholarship concerning literary representations of the Finnar—particularly in the Old Norse-Icelandic sagas—has focused on the "otherness" of the Finnar in relation to the Norse. Yet as historical and archaeological studies now demonstrate, relations between the two groups were far more complex and interconnected than this stereotype suggests. Here we shift the focus away from the perceived Norse-Finnar dichotomy in Norse literary texts, arguing for a more fluid, flexible understanding of the northern margins of the Norse world. These texts have much to say about the negotiation and perception of cross-cultural identities on the medieval Arctic frontier, particularly through interactions between the Finnar and the Norse Hálogalanders from northern Norway.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Viking and medieval Scandinavia, Norway, Iceland, Arctic, Hálogaland, Finnmörk, Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Sámi/Finnar, Bjarmaland, Ohthere, frontiers, borderlands, cross-cultural encounters
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2022 11:11
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2022 13:57
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