An end to a beginning – Final Reflection (Camilla)

I must admit that when I first started designing my project, I was intimidated. I was intimidated by the amount of time I had to complete my mission, worried that my final project just wouldn’t be good enough. But over the past six weeks, I have gained confidence in my own abilities and in my work. These past six weeks have been enlightening in terms of just how much one can get done in a short period of time, my strengths and weaknesses, and the immense amount of issues unraveled over the course of my research adventure.

I have learned that the research process is a series of ups and downs. Last week at the Digital Humanities Meet up at Bryn Mawr, I listened to a member of Swarthmore’s faculty discuss failure. I began to reflect on my own failures, and realized more clearly than ever that failures are steps to progress. Failure isn’t stationary: it is a process in of itself, one which is sometimes necessary in order to succeed. My work continued to fluctuate: I bounced from mapping to data visualization to one form of web design to another, constantly waiting and wishing that something would sort itself out on its own, that suddenly the answer would be right in front of me, ready to put together. However, it wasn’t that simple, figuring out my project and my research goals was a pattern of trial and error, taking risks, spitting out ideas and eventually figuring out a combination that fit correctly. When I finally came across the ideal combination of research and conclusions and digital tools, the project came together much more smoothly and cohesively than anything else I had done prior in the process.

The bulk of the work that I have done during this research internship has been the process of discovery and learning. In the end, the project itself only took a fraction of the time; after all of my experimentation the direction I wanted to go in was finally clear. I was relieved and proud to have come up with a plan. I remember sitting in the classroom in the basement of the library for a few minutes after lab hour in week three and clicking the display button on my timeline prototype and thinking to myself how exciting it was to have come up with something so interactive and pleasing on my own. It felt good to design a project from beginning to end and to write a paper about what I truly am passionate about without a prompt predetermined by a professor. It was also an accomplishment I hadn’t imagined I’d achieve the summer after my first year of college.

Ultimately, this project has been a series of beginnings: from beginning my project and developing my research question (which flipped and spun in circles for weeks, I might add), to beginning a series of discoveries regarding indigenous issues, to finally, beginning a passion that might just continue to develop over the course of my academic career and beyond. My dad heard that I wanted to apply for this internship early in the spring semester and randomly sent me an article from The Guardian regarding Sami reindeer herding rights and said something along the lines of “how about this?” At first, I laughed. I didn’t think that I’d be able to form a project about a topic so obscure. I was sort of right in that with the resources available to me and the distance between researchers in Sweden and myself, the topic was too specific. But, I went ahead and tried anyway.

My project frustrated me, and the research available frustrated me even more. In the end, I embraced the frustration and the limitations to my research. I did what I could, and centered my research around the lack of data available. This way, whenever I present my research, I continue to raise awareness about the erasure of identity and the restrictions the Sami people continue to face today. One could say that it is my small contribution to human rights activism, a field I am keen on dedicating myself to in my career.

As these six weeks come to a close, I hope that I have been honest with my research. Early on, I discussed the importance of remaining objective when discussing a group far removed from my own cultural identity. I realized as time went on how difficult it is to convey Sami culture from an outside point of view without making accidental assumptions or categorizations – the very same issues I displayed in my findings regarding Sami treatment by the Swedish government. I did my best, and hope to someday be able to immerse myself more in this vibrant culture in order to understand it more deeply. I believe that with this challenge, I have grown as a thinker, as a writer, and as a human. While this project may come to an end (or perhaps not), the values I’ve learned to appreciate, and the skills I’ve gained will translate into all of my future endeavors. This reflection may be a conclusion, but this is really only an introduction.

Fourth Reflection (Camilla)

At this point in my research process, I have stumbled and tripped over hurdles while hitting many walls. I knew when I embarked on this mission that my research topic was more obscure and remote in terms of reach. I didn’t expect the data to fall into my hands or be laid out in front of me with a Google search; however, since then I have learned that much of the information I aimed to display and normalize in discourse was blocked from the grasp of Swedish researchers, and therefore, myself. I failed to locate the data I needed in order to understand the Sami population and different interpretations of Sami indigeneity. While I wanted to understand how indigenous identities progress and envelope different areas of life, different lifestyles, varying places, and different levels of connection, the task became impossible.

I sifted through several scholarly articles until I had finally drafted my plan: it felt strong, it felt clear, and it felt powerful. Finding out a few days later that my mission had come to a halt was indeed frustrating, but nevertheless I insisted that I was not a failure. In fact, I had come across a problem that I didn’t even know existed until then. I had found an erasure of indigenous identity by the Swedish government. While the motives pushing these policies that eliminate understanding of the Swedish Sami population have their reasons and logic, I now feel more than ever the need to unravel the rope that ties these forms of discussion out of reach. I like many digital humanists, had to take a direction based on the data I had available. While I didn’t get to choose my direction on my own, I would not have the perspective that I have acquired had it not been for taking the risk of eagerly engaging with search engines only to come out empty handed–well, empty handed in terms of what I originally hoped for, but full of information from everywhere else that became a challenging task in of itself.

At this moment, I have completed two timelines with details about different policies that have been in place over the past few hundred years alongside discussions based on other researchers and viewpoints, extending the research to compare with the effects of outsider categorization. I plan to create one more timeline and then upload them to a website. The next challenge is finding a theme that works with my idea of contrasting between Sami identity and knowledge and knowledge and definitions laid out by the state. Lacking data on population and identity in this indigenous culture, I want to create infographics and a project that describes the issues that I faced in my research in terms of the issues presented because of these barriers to understanding and knowledge. Without knowledge, one cannot take initiative to bring about change. Without understanding, these initiatives wouldn’t have any reason to be taken. The subject of indigenous cultural erasure and limitation [of rights] through categorization is not unique to the Sami, it is global. While I am researching a small indigenous population in Sweden, my project lies on a bigger scale.

I am confused and at a crossroads: I don’t know where I am going exactly, but I am still moving. I suppose that only these next few weeks (which are flying by way too fast) will tell me where I end up. I am lost and progressing at the same time, and it is a strange feeling. But if there is one thing that I am certain about, it is that my productive failure is a true example of how our losses, our failures, and our mistakes all play a role in getting us to our final destinations, they make us stronger, more capable, more eager to learn, and therefore, stronger scholars.

Third Reflection (Camilla)

In our class discussions, we have tackled the perceptions of Digital Humanities as a predominantly white, male, form of scholarship that lacks a critical lens. However, I strongly disagree with this statement, and believe that the digital humanities projects that myself and my peers are working on do the opposite: they promote understanding of history, of stratification, ability, refugee migration, race, sexuality, and in my case of stereotyping and negative impacts of excluding policies based on culture and ethnicity. Our projects strive to be intersectional, and that was one of the values that we came up with as a team during the very first day that we all came together to embark on this journey of exploration, research, and discovery. What does it mean to be intersectional? Before I started college, I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of this word. In fact, the dictionary on my computer still insists that the word doesn’t exist, and highlights it red every time I write it in my class notes or in a paper. To be intersectional means to understand how multiple factors can influence an outcome, and how things are connected. Race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc, do not operate as singular entities. Rather, they affect and influence one another, and can and should be associated to understand how they are all related and impactful. Over the course of this research internship, I strive for my research to not have one singular facet, I hope that I can stay honest to my work and stay objective. I am not Sami myself, and most research papers I have read on Sami are not written by Sami scholars, but rather, they are written by people who wish to learn more, who wish to understand, and who strive to teach and convey powerful and humanizing messages. I too hope that with my research I can help others understand the impact of government interference on indigenous groups, specifically how categorization and regrouping form images of Sami that do not convey the various parts of Sami culture. Not every Sami is a reindeer herder, and they are not all nomadic–assuming that they are, and for example, relocating them thinking it isn’t a problem since they move around anyway, not only influences their abilities to interact with their own traditional lifestyles, but the way that Sami children living surrounded by other Swedish children are perceived by their peers. It is important to understand that cultures evolve, that they are not static, and that not everyone in a culture that isn’t one’s own is the same, or lives the same life.

In “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson,” by Amy E. Earhart and Toniesha L. Taylor, the authors ask what digital humanities would be like if they focused on social issues and were “transformatively critical.” I interpreted the latter term to mean being critical of research done through analysis, but also in a way that is transformative, or changing the way we look at social issues and information, with a goal of changing perspectives and asking more questions. Earhart and Taylor describe a digital project through Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University, both state universities in Texas, Texas A&M being predominantly white, while Prairie View A&M is a Historically Black University (HBCU). Their project of digitizing racial conflict titled White Violence, Black Resistance is relevant today, and compares with racial violence against African Americans today such as in Ferguson, MO. Their work, while historical in nature, has contemporary applications. In addition, Earhart and Taylor describe how the media is a strong source used to share experiences, and digital humanities broadens that field of expression and sharing. Having access to digital humanities in the classroom later has real world applications, and helps people analyze current events and form understanding of their roots and comparisons between the modern age and the past. Ultimately, this project partners two universities with contrasting racial populations. Having them work together expands their resource bases, especially considering that Prairie View does not have the same funding for library space and archives that Texas does. Their project builds bridges, shares multiple perspectives, and looks at history by revealing information on black resistance and white violence, rather than concealing it.

When I think of digital humanities, I think of collaboration and opening up discussion and eliminating barriers. I think that digital humanities have a strong impact on scholarship, and have a lot of power to induce change, so I am with the movement that Roopika Rasam describes in “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities,” it is time to #transformDH. She explains the assumption that digital humanities do not think, they just do. But if we are careful with our defining and the data we choose, if we understand who we are leaving out, who we are marginalizing, we can be more intersectional and true to the data we are using and the projects we are creating. In my project I detail the ways that the Swedish government has defined Sami and therefore marginalized those that do not fit the description. When we do research as digital humanists, we have to be careful not to do the same. I know that my project is from an outsider’s perspective, but being an outsider isn’t always a bad thing, it must just be recognized for what it is. My goal is to include many realities in my project–realities of reindeer herding Sami, Sami youth going to Swedish schools, Sami youth going to Sami schools, Sami that herd part time, and Sami who do not herd at all. Will I be able to include everyone in the narrative? Unfortunately, it is likely that I will miss part of it, but the amazing thing that I see happen through collaboration is the ability to discuss and learn more over time and from one another. I recognize that my project isn’t going to be perfect–no research is, it is a process–but I plan for it to be a step forward in the communication of acceptance and understanding.

Second Reflection (Camilla)

Looking at websites like, I have realized that my original goals for my project have shifted as I look to create a website rather than a digital map. I have received a significant amount of inspiration from one Scalar site called Latina and Latino Mobility in 20th Century California, which uses the digital tool to create multiple pages and exhibits depicting migration to America from Mexico, including the process of reviewing archives and sources used in the exhibits. I liked the path that the exhibits followed and how smoothly images were integrated with text. I changed my project question since my last reflection, and tools like Scalar are appealing to my new goals.

I want to create a site using a basic digital map with pop-ups that describe different communities and local Sami institutions. I hope to paint a picture of Sami life in urban cities, hopefully creating more understanding as to how indigenous communities interact with other city residents and maintain their cultures. There is a common misconception that Sami who move to urban cities are getting rid of their culture. In one article I read, Urban Sami Identities in Scandinavia: Hybridities, Ambivalences, and Cultural Innovation,” from Tromso University in Norway, the authors describe the process of Norwegianization, a transformation from indigeneity to a Norwegian life style. I find this term problematic, as Sami are Norwegian, too. Because of assumptions like this, it is falsely understood that there are little to no Sami people in cities. However, as cities are expanding, more Sami are moving to them and establishing their lives in cities. Many Sami have degrees from universities and participate in city life. Not all of Sami life is reindeer herding, but looking at Swedish legislation since the 1800s, Sweden interprets their indigeneity and indigenous rights as directly connected to a life of only reindeer herding. If Swedes don’t accept Sami city lives, then their rights become marginalized, and we lose sight of the realities of their own communities.

Constructing this project, I hope to shed light on the communities that Sami people have built in Swedish cities. I want to portray them honestly and justly. I know however, that that itself comes with its own challenges. As I am not in Sweden right now and cannot conduct ethnographic research or speak directly with any Swedish Sami city residents, I expect finding data and stories will be challenging. I have found a few websites of Sami organizations in various cities as well as a website called which posts news articles, has the Sami Parliament official website, and other valuable information. I will probably try to contact the people in charge of these websites in hopes of hearing from Sami people themselves. While at the moment the data I want seems a bit out of reach, I am confident that I will be able to create a project that explains Sami symbols, motivations, and communities in Sweden.

Furthermore, some cities in Scandinavia have celebrations called “Sami Week” in which Sami traditions are presented and shared with the entire community. I think this is a strong way to help others interact with Sami culture and to understand it as well as take more interest in it, but it reminds me of a piece I read this past semester in A&S 201—Culture and the Environment by Anna Tsing titled “Becoming a Tribal Elder, and Other Green Development Fantasies.” This piece discusses the fantasy that Indonesian indigenous groups have to create in order to gain legitimacy and understanding from the Indonesian government and people. Indigenous peoples struggle to maintain there ways of life as different operations attempt to take over the lands for their own benefits. As stated in “The politics of planning: assessing the impacts of mining on Sami lands” most of mining in Sweden occurs on Sami lands, yet they have little to no say in the decision. In my opinion, “Sami Week” may create the same fantasy in order to make Sami people more appealing and well understood, as well as more respected. I understand the motives, but I want to dig deeper to see how celebrations like this impact Sami culture as well as reflect the fantasies that indigenous peoples need to create. Also, I would like to understand the balance between urban Sami and other Swedes in the cities, and how they interact with one another.

I am excited about embarking on this mission of data visualization and story telling. I hope that I can be as honest and true to the Sami community as possible, and send a message of their resilience, growth, and adaptation as a people. It is important to recognize indigenous rights, and this is still a problem that Sweden faces today, despite the way that people see Sweden. While yes, Sweden is a welfare-state, it is wrong to assume that all people are equally treated and benefited. Through this project, I aspire to further understanding of indigenous peoples in modern/urban society.

First Reflection

My anthropology professor approached me a few months ago to inform me about this internship opportunity. At the time, I had no idea what Digital Humanities was or how it worked. While the idea of learning to program and putting together a digital project is daunting, I am excited to do in depth research on a topic that matters to me.

With my family originally coming from Sweden and Peru, I have always been interested in the histories of these nations. However, when one thinks of Peru, one immediately thinks of Machu Picchu and the Incas, as well as to indigenous traditions and culture. Thinking of Sweden on the other hand, it is easy to discount the importance of indigenous culture and how the modernization of Scandinavia has affected their lives and influenced their native culture and habitat. Across the world, indigenous peoples have been affected by industrialization and even environmentalist movements. Seen as a part of nature or as even less than human, indigenous peoples have struggled to maintain authority over their own landscapes and ways of life over the push from national governments to develop the land or even preserve it as national parks. From a national perspective, it may seem like the right course to take, but doing so oppresses and manipulates the ways in which indigenous peoples get to live their lives.

While the Sami People now have more authority in Scandinavia then they have in the past, their landscape is changing. Efforts to preserve the forests in the arctic and to find alternative sources of energy (both valid and important efforts) have had an impact on the ability of Sami to hunt and raise their reindeer. Originally, my research question was focused on how conservation efforts have affected the land available to the Sami and to look into how the government perceives these people and their community. Now, as I have had time to think, my question is adapting. While I was in Stockholm visiting my family over spring break, my aunt asked me about the application I had sent in for this internship. When I mentioned that I was curious as to how conservation and arctic development has impacted the Sami community, she pointed out that her summer home was located in a Sami community—far from where they are originally considered to be from in the Arctic Circle. I know that Sami people in the past were forced to integrate with Swedish “modern” society (learning the language, going to Swedish schools, etc), but how do the Sami associate themselves with Sweden today? What are their motives for migration and how has that changed over time? This is a broad question that must be narrowed down, but I hope to outline how different Sami communities across Sweden have developed and how they interact with their areas. I want to look into different factors that have influenced Sami migration and by looking into the different communities that have formed, see how they have both maintained and adapted their tradition.

By doing this research, I hope to expose the importance of indigenous communities and their treatment. The removal of authority and legitimacy from indigenous peoples is a problem that exists across the world. Here in the United States Native Americans at Standing Rock, North Dakota have struggled and fought to maintain their mother—their home. In my Culture and the Environment Class, I watched a documentary about how the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, has been removed access from a lake that is rightfully theirs. Yet, through it all, these people persist, and I wish to humanize them in ways that many people are unable to understand. These communities are strong and determined, even if their ways of life are perceived as inferior by others.

I am planning on using GIS to do digital mapping in order to display Sami migration in Sweden. I want to mark various Sami communities across the nation and describe the interaction with other people in the area as well as how they got to be where they are. This will not be a simple task. My question must be narrowed down and refined in order to achieve my goal in the six weeks that I have. Furthermore, I am unsure of how I will conduct my research. I am currently looking into different Swedish census websites and I plan to look at government documents as well, but I am not sure how consistent or informational my data will be in terms of what I am looking for. But overall, I am confident that this project will have the potential to create an impact. I am excited to get the opportunity to use Digital Humanities to portray my research. Digital Humanities gives me the ability to share on a wider scale than I could have ever imagined.