Archival Science

, 9:15 | Cite as

Public records and minorities: problems and possibilities for Sámi and Kven

  • Kaisa MaliniemiEmail author
Original paper


The Kven and Sámi peoples of northern Norway have been represented as groups without a voice in public records. Through the project ‘National Minorities in Public Records in Norway,’ however, hundreds of documents written in the Sámi and Kven languages were found inside the public archives. These documents were neither labeled, nor cataloged in any way as non-Norwegian-language documents. This essay raises a number of questions related to how a lack of knowledge has influenced our understanding of ethnic minorities both in archives and in research related to minorities. Furthermore, recent experience leads us to a few more questions concerning the usage of sources. How do Norwegian ministries treat requests for access to official documents less than 60-years old related to the Kven and Sámi peoples? How were documents in minority languages arranged and archived by archival personnel? How can an oppressed collective memory serve as a counter-memory for minorities? How can archival documents change our understanding of minorities? What might archivists do to make minorities more visible in archives? This paper describes my personal experiences and reflections in connection with the project.


Minorities Minority language Silence Archiving Norway 


  1. Bastian J (2006) Reading colonial records through an archival lens: the provenance of place, space and creation. Archival Sci 6:267–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burton A (2005) Introduction. In: Burton A (ed) Archive stories: facts, fictions, and the writing of history. Duke University Press, Durham, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  3. Carter R (2006) Of things said and unsaid: power, archival silences, and power in silence. Archivaria 61:215–298Google Scholar
  4. Cook T, Schwartz JM (2002a) Archives, records and power: the making of modern memory. Archival Sci 2:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cook T, Schwartz JM (2002b) Archives, records and power: from (postmodern) theory to (archival) performance. Archival Sci 2:171–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Council of Europe (1995) Framework convention for the protection of national minorities.
  7. Council of Europe (2003) Access to official documents. Recommendation Rec (2002) 2 of the Committee of Ministers and explanatory.
  8. Dirks NB (2002) Annals of the archive: ethnographic notes on the sources of history. In: Axel BK (ed) From the margin: historical anthropology and its futures. Duke University Press, Durham, pp 47–65Google Scholar
  9. Duff W, Harris V (2002) Stories and names: archival description as narrating records and constructing meanings. Archival Sci 2:263–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eriksen KE, Niemi E (1981) Den finske fare: sikkerhetspolitikk i nord 1860–1940. UniversitetsforlagetGoogle Scholar
  11. Ghosh D (2005) National narratives, miscegenation. In: Burton A (ed) Archive stories: facts, fictions, and the writing of history. Duke University Press, Durham, pp 27–44Google Scholar
  12. Hanssen ER (1986) Porsanger bygdebokGoogle Scholar
  13. Harris V (2004) The culturated archive: an interrogation of the nexus between archives and culture from a South African perspective.
  14. Holmesland H (2006) De nasjonale minoritetene. ABM skrift # 25Google Scholar
  15. International Labor Organization (1989) ILO Convention 169
  16. JanMohamed A, Lloyd D (1990) Introduction: toward a theory of minority discourse, what is to be done? In: JanMohamed A, Lloyd D (eds) The context of minority discourse. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 1–16Google Scholar
  17. Ketelaar E (2000) Archivistics: research saving the profession. Am Arch 63:322–340Google Scholar
  18. Ketelaar E (2002) The archive as a time machine. Proceedings of the DLM-Forum 2002. Access and preservation of electronic information: best practices and solutions. Barcelona, 6–8 May 2002, INSAR European Archives News, Supplement VII (Luxembourg 2002): 576–581.
  19. Kleppa H (1990) Eldre arkivsaker—kommunane. OsloGoogle Scholar
  20. Kurtz M (2006) A postcolonial archive? On the paradox of practices in a Northwest Alaska project. Archivaria 61:63–90Google Scholar
  21. Lindbach KM (2001) Kvenlitteratur i nord. Med spesielt blikk på Idar Kristiansens romaner. Dissertation, University of TromsøGoogle Scholar
  22. Lindbach KM (2005) Kvenene som nasjonal minoritet.
  23. Lindbach KM (2006) Arkiv og minoriteter. In: Arkiv, makt og demokrati. ABM # 28Google Scholar
  24. Lindbach KM (2007a) Nasjonale minoriteter i offentlige arkiver—en undersøkelse av minoritetskulturers plass i offentlige arkiver. Nordisk arkiv nyt Nr. 2Google Scholar
  25. Lindbach KM (2007b) Arkivet som minoriteters hukommelse. Lokalhistorisk magasin Nr.3Google Scholar
  26. Lindbach KM (2008) På sporet etter kvenskspråklige dokumenter i Statsarkivet i Tromsø. [Arkiv] magasine. Nr. 1/08Google Scholar
  27. Rattansi A (2007) Racism: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Reid G (2002) The history of the past is the trust of the present: preservation and excavation in the Gay and Lesbian Archives of South Africa. In: Hamilton C, Harris V, Taylor J, Pickover M, Reid G, Saleh R (eds) Refiguring the archive. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 193–207Google Scholar
  29. Ryymin T, Maliniemi K (2009) Nytt lys på fornorskningspolitikken? Sentrale direktiver og lokal virkelighet. Speculum boreale. University of TromsøGoogle Scholar
  30. Said E (1978) Orientalism: western conceptions of the Orient. Penguin Books, HarmondsworthGoogle Scholar
  31. Spivak GC (1988) In other worlds: essays in cultural politics. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Stoler AL (2002) Colonial archives and the arts of governance. Archival Sci 3–4:87–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Valderhaug G (2003) Recordkeeping in local government in Norway 1950–2000. Archival Sci 3:205–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Williams C (2006) Managing archives: foundations, principles and practice. Chandos Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Association of Local and Private ArchivesTromsöNorway

Personalised recommendations