Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Indigenous Sámi, the Swedish Nation-State and Islam

Lars Rhodin


Both in a European and global context, Norway and Sweden are seen as being among the most tolerant and accepting nations in terms of different world views, ideologies and cultures, evidenced by their willingness to voluntarily accept large numbers of refugees and to create a welcoming and multicultural environment. What receives less attention is the fact that they are the home of an indigenous group of people, the Sámi, whose traditional lands cross both nations. This paper seeks to actualize the Sámi both in a historical and contemporary context and show how their voice and their position have become relatively muffled in a contemporary discourse that is mainly focused on how nation-states should avoid conflict with new alien social norms and values, particularly those associated with Muslim immigrants. It argues that the Sámi have become ‘out of sight and out of mind’ and at the peripheries of society within contemporary debates and literature concerned with multiculturalism and identity despite their longstanding claims as an indigenous people whose rights have yet to be functionally recognised.


Sami, indigenous, multiculturalism, Sweden, Islam, religion, politics

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