The nomads, the settlers and the in-betweens: Nordic clergymen on Sámi livelihoods in the early nineteenth century

Otso Kortekangas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article analyzes the published journals of two Lutheran clergymen active in the Sámi areas of the early nineteenth century Nordic countries, Petrus Læstadius (Sweden) and Jacob Fellman (Finland). The article focuses on the ways Læstadius and Fellman described the transition from nomadism to agriculture that many Sámi individuals undertook in the nineteenth century, following a couple of centuries of agricultural colonization of the Sámi areas of Sweden and Finland. The aim of this article is to illuminate and examine the various degrees between the categories ‘sedentary settler’ and the ‘nomadic Sámi’. What kind of in-between positions did this seemingly binary pair of concepts conceal? The article contributes to our understanding of the ways indigenous peoples were perceived in the early nineteenth century and how their livelihoods were coded in relation to dominant ideals of national economy and civilization. The focus on the in-between positions between ‘settlers’ and ‘nomads’ reveals important complexities in the views of the clergymen. It uncovers various, at times contradictory definitions of culture and civilization. The article also concludes that while the priority of agriculture as the main livelihood of both Sweden and Finland was clear, this view was challenged by the notion of the sustainable Sámi livelihood of large-scale reindeer herding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-525
Number of pages16
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • agriculture
  • civilization
  • Jacob Fellman
  • nomadism
  • Petrus Læstadius
  • Sámi history


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