Tools of teaching and means of managing : Educational and sociopolitical functions of languages of instruction in elementary schools with Sámi pupils in Sweden, Finland and Norway 1900–1940 in a cross-national perspective

University dissertation from Turku (Åbo), Finland : Iloinen tiede

Abstract: This dissertation contributes to recent research on Sámi education from two different angles. First of all, the dissertation pioneers as a cross-national study of the education of a cross-national population previously mainly studied within different nation states. With its theoretical framework of institutional and sociopolitical functions of languages of instruction, the dissertation also places a strong focus on why different Sámi varieties were or were not prioritized as languages of instruction in elementary schools with Sámi pupils in early twentieth century Sweden, Finland and Norway. Studying what functions of languages of instruction regional educational authorities, Sámi teachers and a number of other Sámi actors prioritized in the institutional and sociopolitical contexts sheds new light on the language policies within the elementary education systems of Sweden, Finland and Norway. Also, the focus on cross-nationalism points out tendencies that earlier research on the educational history of the Sámi has missed when the focus has been within, rather than across, national borders. These findings include examples of cross-national recontextualizations that lay bare a conditioned awareness of the policies in the neighboring countries among the regional educational authorities. This awareness was conditioned since language policies in neighboring countries were viewed through the lens of the home country of the authorities. What also emerges in a cross-national analysis is a certain active rather than re-active Sáminess, unbound by the national borders of Sweden, Finland and Norway. These findings should not be taken as attempts to construct essentialising notions of pan-Sáminess in the early twentieth century. Rather, they are calls for opening up research frameworks to include other frames than the nation states of today. 

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