It Speaks to You: Making Kin of People, Duodji and Stories in Sámi Museums

Image: Duodji by Ina Omma

The research project “The Art of Nordic Colonialism” is hosting a digital guest lecture with the Sámi archaeologist and museologist Liisa-Rávná Finbog.


The language of kinship – the act of making your relations kin – is a basic principle in many Indigenous philosophies, expressing that the world is made up of an infinite web of relationships that expand beyond the humanocentric; generating ties that apply to everyone and everything, to things and objects, to land, to waters and other-than-human beings. Indigenous knowledge systems [epistemologies] and concepts [methodologies] materialize from this system of kin as ways of being, knowing and doing. In this lecture, Finbog will be discussing the importance of Sámi paradigms and analytical tools when engaging with processes and expressions of Sámi Indigenous identity and sovereignty within the context of museums and cultural heritage institutions.

The lecture is based on Finbog’s recent PhD dissertation, “It Speaks to You: Making Kin of People, Duodji and Stories in Sámi Museums” (2021) where she explores the Indigenization of form, material and method through the practice of duodji. Traditionally, duodji has been defined as Sámi “craft”, but Finbog redefines the practice of duodji as an important Sámi epistemology of aesthetics and storytelling. Using the practices, materials and relations of Sámi duodji as a lens, she examines multiple topics of indigenization and decolonization within museums and cultural heritage institutions, including the histories of dispossession, cultural erasure and epistemicide that have shaped, and continue to shape the Indigenous Sámi experience; the politics of loss, restitution and resilience; as well as the wealth of complexities that are deeply embedded in both duodji as a practice, but also in duodji objects themselves, which in turn challenge their place and role in both museums and their own source communities.

About the Speaker

Liisa-Rávná Finbog is a Sámi archaeologist and museologist and duojar from Oslo/Vaapste/ Skánit. Finbog has been a PhD candidate at the University of Oslo and will be defending her dissertation in late April 2021.

Finbog has published articles on museology, archaeology and duodji in journals such as Nordisk museology and books such as "Research Journeys In/To Multiple Ways of Knowing" (2019) and "Mázejoavku. Indigenous Collectivity and Art" (2020).

She is also an accomplished practitioner of duodji, and she has held multiple courses and workshops in duodji.

Finbog is also in the curatorial group behind the Sámi Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2022.

This lecture is the second in a series of digital seminars in the spring of 2021 organized by the research projects “The Art of Nordic Colonialism” (Carlsberg Foundation) and “OKTA: Art and Social Communities in Sápmi” (Arts Council Norway / Danish Arts Council) centred around new research on questions of art, aesthetics, and colonial histories.

The first lecture was by Dr Moa Sandström (18 March), and forthcoming lecturers include Anna Arabindan-Kesson and Ananda Cohen-Aponte (4 May). More information will follow.

For questions, please contact Mathias Danbolt.

The lecture series is supported by Arts Council Norway / Danish Arts Council and the Carlsberg Foundation.