The Sámi Peoples of the North

A Social and Cultural History

August 2014 9781849042574 344pp
Temporarily out of stock
December 2018 9781787380318 344pp


The first comprehensive history of the Sami people of the Nordic countries and northwestern Russia. There is no single volume which encompasses an integrated social and cultural history of the Sami people from the Nordic countries and northwestern Russia. Neil Kent’s book fills this lacuna. In the first instance, he considers how the Sami homeland is defined: its geography, climate, and early contact with other peoples. He then moves on to its early chronicles and the onset of colonisation, which changed Sami life profoundly over the last millennium. Thereafter, the nature of Sami ethnicity is examined, in the context of the peoples among whom the Sami increasingly lived, as well as the growing intrusions of the states who claimed sovereignty over them. The Soviet gulag, the Lapland War and increasing urbanisation all impacted upon Sami life. Religion, too, played an important role from pre-historic times, with their pantheon of gods and sacred sites, to their Christianisation. In the late twentieth century there has been an increasing symbiosis of ancient Sami spiritual practice with Christianity. Recently the intrusions of the logging and nuclear industries, as well as tourism have come to redefine Sami society and culture. Even the meaning of who exactly a Sami is is scrutinised, at a time when some intermarry and yet return to Sapmi, where their children maintain their Sami identity.

Table of contents



1. Ethnicities, the Law, Repressions and War

2. Religion

3. Health, Family, Sexuality and Education

4. Sámi Dwellings, Arts and Crafts

5. Literature

6. Music, Sport and Films

7. Reindeer Herding and Other Livelihoods






‘This detailed and comprehensive study of a people who have lived for thousands of years on Europe’s northernmost margins reveals an astonishing diversity of language, culture and livelihoods. The lands of the Sámi, as Neil Kent so ably shows, embrace far more than reindeers and Yuletide tourism.’ — David Kirby, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London and author of A Concise History of Finland  

‘The Sámi Peoples of the North is exhaustive, nuanced, and best of all, accessible. With his sustained attention to historical detail, Neil Kent has done a valuable service for anyone thinking about the Sami — or, for that matter, indigenous populations generally.’ — Nick McDonell, author of Twelve and The Civilization of Perpetual Movement: Nomadism in World Politics


Neil Kent is Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security, a former associate of the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, and Senior Fellow at the Rennes School of Business Centre for Unframed Thinking. The author of many books on Nordic and Eastern European history, his publications include The Soul of the North: A Social, Architectural and Cultural History of the Nordic Countries, 1770–1940; Helsinki: A Cultural and Literary History; and The Sámi Peoples of the North: A Social and Cultural History.

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