Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, GIH

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På skidor i kulturella gränsland: Samiska spår i skidsportens historia
Malmö universitet, Institutionen Idrottsvetenskap (IDV).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5702-0921
2021 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this compilation thesis is to shed light on the Sámi history of ski sport in Sweden from an organizational and cultural history perspective where concepts like nation and ethnicity fill an important function. The Sámi are an indigenous people living in Sápmi, a land area extending across the North Calotte region and including parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The thesis contains six separate articles which together comprise a research period extending between 1879 and 1990.  The articles have been studied from different points of view with the focus on how skis as sport equipment have been historically charged with cultural expressions created by the individual skiers as well as by the general public’s interest in skiing. These cultural expressions have also been internalized as collective identification objects positioning the mutual relations between groups and collectives. By historical links to kings, heroic myths and polar expeditions, the sport of skiing has, for example, become associated with a national Swedish identity. By pinpointing its Sámi origins in the light of history, the ski sport is in this thesis instead viewed as a culturally heterogeneous phenomenon.    In three of the articles of the thesis, the Sámi history of Swedish ski sport is studied. The focus of these studies lies on how ”Sáminess” and ”Swedishness”, viewed as cultural identities, were constructed in connection with the early rise and development of ski sport from the late 19th century to the interwar period (Articles I and II) as well as with the sporting career of downhill skier Bengt-Erik Grahn in the 1960s (Article V). The studies illustrate that, at its rise and early development, cross-country skiing in Sweden was regarded as a Sámi sport. In the early 20th century, however, an ethnic borderline was created between what was Sámi and what was Swedish, which gradually invisibilized the Sámi link to ski sport. Instead, cross-country skiing acquired the inofficial character of being the Swedish national sport. The three remaining studies investigate the separately organized Sámi sport movement from its rise in 1948 through the year 1990 (Articles III, IV and VI). The origin of this movement derives from the Sámi Championships, a winter event whose original contests include skiing and other sports with a background in reindeer husbandry.  The articles clarify the importance of ski sport in creating contrastive ethnic identities between Sáminess and Swedishness (Articles I–V). Similarly, these constructed cultural markers of Sáminess and Swedishness have been interwoven to symbolize an overarching ethnic national identity (Articles IV–V). In addition, the way ski sport has been operated within the separately organized Sámi sport movement has carried weight in the creation of Sápmi as a crossborder nation (Article VI).  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Malmö: Malmö universitet , 2021. , p. 114
Keywords [en]
Cross-country skiing, Sámi history, History of sport, Ethnicity, Cultural identities, Indigenous sport
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7859DOI: 10.24834/isbn.9789178771950ISBN: 978-91-7877-195-0 (electronic)ISBN: 978-91-7877-194-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-7859DiVA, id: diva2:1801972
Public defence
2021-09-10, D 138, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Pionjärerna vid Stallmästaregården: om skidsportens uppkomst i Sverige
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pionjärerna vid Stallmästaregården: om skidsportens uppkomst i Sverige
2021 (Swedish)In: RIG: Kulturhistorisk tidskrift, ISSN 0035-5267, E-ISSN 2002-3863, no 2, p. 83-95Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademien, 2021
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7858 (URN)
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03
2. Bland "rationella asketer" och "ädla vildar": Etniska relationer inom svensk längdskidsport från sekelskifte till mellankrigstid
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bland "rationella asketer" och "ädla vildar": Etniska relationer inom svensk längdskidsport från sekelskifte till mellankrigstid
2017 (Swedish)In: Historisk Tidskrift, ISSN 0345-469X, E-ISSN 2002-4827, Vol. 137, no 4, p. 640-674Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Historiskt har längdskidåkningen haft en framträdande plats i den svenska idrottsnationalismen. Manliga skidåkare har i detta sammanhang fått förkroppsliga ett folkhjälteideal där tysthet, strävsamhet, jantelag och skogsarbete varit centrala beståndsdelar. Etniska relationer inom denna vinteridrott har emellertid hamnat i skymundan, inte minst vid beaktande av skidåkningens betydelse som samisk identitetsmarkör. Denna uppsats tar därför avstamp i idrottens kontrastering mellan ”svenskhet” och ”samiskhet” som, visar det sig, var särskilt påtaglig i den moderna skidsportens ungdom.

Abstract [en]

Cross-country skiing in Sweden has long been a sport with connotations of nationalism. When skiing became a popular sport in the 1920s, an image emerged of the elite male cross-country skier as a ”folk hero” embodying certain characteristics: he was a silent, willful and hard-working lumberjack. The present study contributes to the discussion of identity formation within Swedish cross-country skiing by adding an ethnic perspective. Although skiing had an important function in early twentieth-century national identity formation, skiing was also strongly associated with the Sami people, the indigenous population of the Nordic countries who resides in a region that stretches across the national borders of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The study analyzes and sheds light on the contrast between ”Swedishness” and ”Saminess” in descriptions of individual elite cross-country skiers in press material and skiing literature of the early twentieth century. Two ideal types of cross-country skiers, both with connotations of nationalism and ethnicity, emerge from the sources. First, the ”rational ascetic,” representing the characteristics of the ”folk hero.” His industriousness, silence, restraint and unpretentiousness embody a protestant ethic, which combines the pursuit of success with an asceticism that prevents the skier from being satisfied with his achievements. Athletic skills were thereby explained as the result of intentions put into practice through rational goals and methods. The ”noble savage”, the second ideal type, on the other hand, represents neither rationality nor asceticism. Instead, his skills were understood to be an innate ability. Since the ”noble savage” belongs to the state of nature, where harmony and balance prevails, no aspirations of any kind are needed. Therefore, neither discipline, rational training or time perception are the bases for the success of a ”noble savage.” He is a ”natural talent” possessing biological properties suitable for skiing. Whereas the success of ”Swedish” skiers (rational athletes) were explained as the result of individual capacities, a victory for a Sami skier was perceived to be due to external circumstances – for example the ”lappföre”, a particular snow condition, or certain weather, trail and track conditions which were difficult to master – because their abilities were natural and not acquired. The heroization of Swedish elite skiers was thus a process reinforced by the construction of ethnic contrasts between the ”rational (Swedish) ascetic”, depicted as an active subject, and the ”noble (Sami) savage”, depicted as a passive object.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Svenska Historiska Föreningen, 2017
Keywords
History of sport, indigenous sport, Sami history, cross-country skiing, ethnicity, identity
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7868 (URN)000418623500004 ()23959 (Local ID)23959 (Archive number)23959 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03
3. "Gud behöver idrottsungdomen": Lennart Wallmark och den samiska idrotten
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Gud behöver idrottsungdomen": Lennart Wallmark och den samiska idrotten
2017 (Swedish)In: Personhistorisk Tidskrift, ISSN 0031-5699, no 1, p. 9-29Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Personhistoriska samfundet, 2017
Keywords
Sámi history, Sámi sport, Lennart Wallmark
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7870 (URN)27989 (Local ID)27989 (Archive number)27989 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03
4. Samemästerskapens uppkomst: Om idrott, inkludering och exkludering utifrån stats- och etnicitetsgränser
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Samemästerskapens uppkomst: Om idrott, inkludering och exkludering utifrån stats- och etnicitetsgränser
2017 (Swedish)In: Idrott, historia & samhälle, ISSN 0280-2775, p. 59-93Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article sheds light on the history of Sámi sport and focuses on the emergence of the Sámi Ski Championships in Sweden, a winter sport event founded in 1948 in which the Sámi, an indigenous people living in the north of Europe, compete against each other in cross-country skiing and other sports with roots in Sámi culture. The championships have had an important function in shaping a Sámi identity through sporting activities. Although competition and performance were prominent elements of the Sámi Ski Championships in the early years, a superior aim was to create a space where Sámi could meet and socialize, and where the Sámi cohesion could be strengthened. However, in this study it becomes apparent that the event was not only an arena for inclusion but also for exclusion. During the first decades, only Sámi residing in Sweden had the right to participate in the championships, although the Sámi live in an area that stretches across the state borders of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union). However, the exclusion went even further. In fact, only those (the Sámi) who had the right to carry out reindeer husbandry were allowed to compete, thereby excluding a major part of the Sámi population in Sweden. The article therefore provides an analysis of how a Sámi identity was constructed at the Sámi Ski Championships from 1948 to 1959 – a construction entangled with cultural markers related to state borders as well as ethnic boundaries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Svenska idrottshistoriska föreningen, 2017
Keywords
Sami history, indigenous people, cross-country skiing, Sami identity, Sami ski championships
National Category
Humanities and the Arts History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7872 (URN)24005 (Local ID)24005 (Archive number)24005 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03
5. Den egensinnige från Kittelfjäll: En biografisk studie om utförsåkaren Bengt-Erik Grahn
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Den egensinnige från Kittelfjäll: En biografisk studie om utförsåkaren Bengt-Erik Grahn
2021 (Swedish)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 87, no 1, p. 61-88Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Singular Slalom Skier from Kittelfjäll: A Biographical Study About Bengt-Erik Grahn

This article is a sports biography of Bengt-Erik Grahn, a prominent figure in Swedish alpine skiing during the 1960s. By discussing representations of Bengt-Erik Grahn in the Swedish daily press and comparing these with his own life story and memories from his time as an elite alpine skier, the objective is to study the cultural identities that appear in relation to his sports career. Bengt-Erik Grahn grew up in a Sami family in Kittelfjall in the Swedish province of Vasterbotten and spent his early school years at the Sami nomad school in Tarnaby. Due to his Sami background and position as a representative of the Swedish national alpine team, the article focuses in particular on how identity constructs such as "Swedishness" and "Saminess" appear in the source material. For instance, it is argued that his Sami identity served an important function when Bengt-Erik Grahn was depicted as a Swedish sports hero. In addition, his Sami background, meager way of life, odd sporting outfit (a hand-knitted wool sweater and hat) and profession as a forestry worker were all characteristics presented in the press coverage as distinguishing the Swedish sporting identity of amateurism from what was perceived as a jet-set and playboy mentality represented by the professional Continental European alpine skiers. However, simultaneously with this idealization, Bengt-Erik Grahn's Simi heritage was also used as a stereotype to explain his aggressive and risky tactics, which often resulted in crashes in the most important competitions. Bengt-Erik Grahn's own life story in several ways offers nuance to the perceptions of the daily press. In particular, it reveals the challenges facing Bengt-Erik Grahn in his youth as he chose to focus on a career in alpine skiing. For example, there were strong expectations that a Sami skier should devote him- or herself to cross-country skiing, which was considered a traditional Sami sport at the time. Alpine skiing, on the other hand, was perceived as modern and alien to Sami sports culture. In that way, Bengt-Erik Grahn's odd and independent way of skiing appears in his life story as a demonstration of empowerment. Despite the prevailing culture, he chose the sport and how to perform it entirely on his own.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Scandia, 2021
Keywords
Sami history, Oral history, History of sport, Alpine skiing, Ethnicity
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7857 (URN)000658806100004 ()
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03
6. The Development of Sámi Sport, 1970–1990: A Concern for Sweden or for Sápmi?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Development of Sámi Sport, 1970–1990: A Concern for Sweden or for Sápmi?
2019 (English)In: International Journal of the History of Sport, ISSN 0952-3367, E-ISSN 1743-9035, Vol. 19, no 11, p. 1013-1034Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is widely agreed that sport and national identity are two interwoven phenomena. Recently, researchers have taken an interest in how sport has been used for nation-building purposes among groups not defined in terms of nation-states. These include the Sámi, an Indigenous people living in an area that extends over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Sámi championships and a Sámi national football team have been important elements in shaping a Sámi national identity across the state borders. Against this background, the historical development that led to the formation in 1990 of a Sámi National Sports Federation was highly complicated. The period from 1970 to 1990 was fraught by the dilemma of how sport was to be organized – based on the division of the Sámi by state borders or through a transnational Sámi sports organization. The outcome was a compromise in that the Sámi National Sports Federation was founded as an umbrella organization under which Sámi in Norway, Sámi in Finland, and Sámi in Sweden established separate and autonomous Sámi ‘district associations’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2019
Keywords
Sámi history, Indigenous sport, Indigenous people, nations without states, Sámi Championships
National Category
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7862 (URN)10.1080/09523367.2019.1687451 (DOI)000497742500001 ()30776 (Local ID)30776 (Archive number)30776 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-10-03 Created: 2023-10-03 Last updated: 2023-10-03

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