The Giellagas Institute has played a very important role in producing researchers, teachers and other experts not only for the Saami society in Finland but also for other Saami institutions in other Nordic countries. With the close relationships to Saami society, the Giellagas Institute has created active research networks both nationally and on a Nordic level.
Saami is the daily language of internal communication in the Giellagas Institute. The researchers are using and developing Saami language both as a vehicle of scientific discussion and instruction as well as a methodological tool for research into traditional knowledge.
Structures of Storytelling
Saami Language Studies
Saami linguistics was established as a major academic subject of its own in 2004 when Saami language and Saami cultural studies culture were split into two major subjects. The main research effort of the staff before the split was a linguistic one so that in fact Saami linguistics is a continuation of the old subject and inherited its staff from it. The linguistic research in the Giellagas Institute consists of individual projects and covers both historical and synchronic research into the Saami languages, mainly North Saami, Inari Saami and Skolt Saami. The contributions of the staff in Uralic historical linguistics have been important.
In Saami linguistics, one of the strong points of the Giellagas Institute is the broad scope of its research which covers both diachronic and synchronic aspects of language, and the choice to use and develop realistic and substance-orientated research approaches such as functional dependency grammar instead of speculative ones such as the different versions of generative grammar. In spite of a long tradition, there are lots of uncovered or poorly covered areas of research and the Giellagas Institute aspires to chart these with broad basic research in order create comprehensive systematic knowledge and in order to develop a balanced teaching program with an adequate coverage of the different aspects of language usage, structure, semantics, variation and history.
The need for pervasive basic research also means that it is not useful to concentrate the research activities of the staff or those of the students into single-theme projects engaging several researchers and that individual projects are preferred. Because of the need to proceed along a multitude of lines simultaneously many of the individual projects have been going on for several years but they will lead to publications of important monographs in the near future. In linguistics, a representative and comprehensive corpus is much needed and the lack of it is a weakness but the problem is likely to be solved in cooperation with the language technology project at the University of Tromsø, Norway.
Saami cultural studies was established as a major academic subject of its own in 2004 when Saami language and Saami cultural studies culture were split into two major subjects.
In Saami cultural studies the main research themes have been recent history of ethnic relations in the Saami area, indigenous concepts of cultural environment, and modern Saami identity reflected in politics, media and art. One research theme has been the study of Saami-Finnish relations from the perspective of land use, focusing on indigenous perceptions, interpretations and strategies concerning the relations between environment, landscape and culture. For a point of comparison perspectives from another arctic context, also the “adaptation” or “transition” of the Nenets people in Russia has been studied. Ethnic relations have been studied from comparative perspectives, when examining the position of Sámi language and Saami culture in the educational policy from the point of linguistic rights in the three Nordic countries, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The emic perspective in Saami cultural studies has began developing only recently, and there is a multitude of research issues that would require focusing. The wide range of research issues makes it possible to launch innovative interdisciplinary research strategies and concentrate on interesting and motivating themes. The recently strengthened trend in emic orientated research in Saami cultural studies also means that Giellagas Institute has quite a strong position in creating infrastructures for Saami studies that are still taking form. With the close relationships to Saami society, the Giellagas Institute has created active research networks both nationally and on a Nordic level.
Last updated: 26.9.2019