Erika De Vivo

#Meannu2118 at the convergence of fiction and reality: art, performance and storytelling between pasts and futures in a land of relations.


This contribution addresses the relationship between the MárkaSámi – a Sámi farming community – and the Márka landscape. The Márka (an inland area on the Norwegian side of Sápmi) is a borderland region long regarded as peripheral and liminal both in Norwegian and in Sámi milieus.  Nevertheless, the Márka and its specific landscape are central to the identity of the local Márkasámi people. The relationships the Márkasámi have with the Márka are deeply rooted in Sámi non-Christian worldviews and are bestowed with multiple layers of meaning. The exam of Márkomeannu festival (held in Gállogieddi) offers the opportunity to examine the relationships between Márkasámi and the Márka as well as the narratives, conceptual bases and cultural significance characterizing Márkomeannu in relation to Sámi indigenous cosmologies and the local landscape. It also enables a reflection upon the relation between humans and non-humans in the time of climate change. I shall focus on Márkomeannu 2018 that, unlike previous editions, was organized around a festival plot implemented through site-specific art exhibition, scenography, soundscape, and theatrical performances. The plot merged fiction and reality, setting the festival 100 years in the future, in a time when the “World is about to collapse in power struggle, nuclear war, colonization and environmental crises” and only Gallogieddi stands as a landscape of freedom for the indigenous Sámi peoples. This concept introduced festivalgoers to a dystopic scenario denouncing contemporary environmental malpractices while, simultaneously, reaffirming Márkasámi connections with their land and with Sapmi and the Sami community as a whole. The festival itself and its participatory theatrical performances constituted new forms of storytelling that enabled the younger Sámi generations to address issues important to the local and transnational Sámi community as well as to society as a whole.

Based on 16-months ethnographic fieldwork and on interviews with Sámi cultural activists, this contribution provides a glimpse into the complex relationship between different local actors (humans, non-humans) and the Márka landscape.


Erika De Vivo is currently a PhD candidate (3rd year) at Unito Università degli Studi di Torino. She had also been a visiting PhD student at SESAM the Centre for Sámi Studies at UiT Arctic University of Tromsø for 16 months between summer 2018 and spring 2020. She is currently concluding her PhD in cultural anthropology, with a thesis on the origins and meanings of the Sámi festival Márkomeannu. Her research interests include Sámi Festivals, indigenous Sámi spirituality, urban Sámi identity, and art as a means for political expression in colonised contexts, with a focus of Fennoscandinavia.


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