10th „ Scientific Coffee Session Human-Forest-Relationship (HFR)” with Anna Ott (Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE) on “Sámi reindeer herders’ fight for preserving and renewing”  | 04 Oct 2023 13-15 CET / 14-16 EEST

We warmly invite you to join our 10th “Scientific Coffee HFR” session if you are interested in the research about Human Forest Relationships or are even active in the field yourself.

If you want to join, please contact: judith.kiss@uni-jena.de and a Zoom link will be sent to you shortly before the session.

What is it about?

10th English “Scientific Coffee Human-Forest-Relationships”

04. October 2023
13-15 CET / 14-16 EEST

Input: Anna Ott (Finnish Environment Institute SYKE)

Title: Sámi reindeer herders’ fight for preserving and renewing – An analysis of the conflict over forest in the Sámi homeland


Old-grown forests in the Sámi homeland are key reindeer pasture areas (Ott, 2019), but Sámi are not the only ones laying claims to these forests. Sámi have therefore found themselves repeatedly and since early 2000s increasingly in conflict over forests (Raitio, 2008; Saarikoski and Raitio, 2013). This presentation summarizes research that explored the newest conflict developments involving Sámi reindeer herders, state-owned enterprise Metsähallitus, and Inari common forest. Data gathered during fieldwork in Aanaar (Inari) and Helsinki, including interviews, news articles, and fieldnotes on exhibitions at Siida Museum and dance performance ‘Matriarkaatti, was analyzed to establish what is at stake for different conflicting parties and how Forest Steward Council (FSC) certification scheme impacts on the conflict. Two narratives were found that perform different conflict realities but highlight similarly that questions regarding land ownership and land use lie at the core of the conflict. Applying a political ontology lens (e.g., Blaser, 2009; de la Cadena, 2010) and drawing on literature discussing alternatives to development (e.g., Kothari et al. 2019), the two narratives were analyzed to show how the conflict over forests is a conflict of clashing ontologies and perceptions of development. The narrative constructed by Sámi reindeer herders is grounded in a relational ontology that highlights the radical interdependence of all entities that make up the world, and it proposes an alternative way of governing, using, and engaging with nature. Sámi have thus been found to challenge the modern ontology and the hierarchical dualisms that underlie the second narrative and that legitimize the continued exploitation of nature and continued existence of colonial power relations. While the FSC certification scheme favors scientific knowledge over other ways of knowing, Sámi have claimed it to their benefit and have applied it as a worldmaking tool. FSC certification scheme was thus found to reveal the pluriverse.


Anna Ott has been working as a researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute for 3,5 years. Her research focuses on how to address existing injustices and prevent new injustices from arising when transitioning towards more sustainable societies. She is further a doctoral candidate at the University of Lapland and enrolled in the doctoral program “Arctic in a Changing World”. Her doctoral thesis has the preliminary title “Ontological multiplicity in the Sámi homeland and alternative approaches to environmental crisis” and it explores how in the Sámi homeland, different ontologies are performed into being and with what consequences. It aims to promote onto-epistemological justice to Sámi and to highlight the transformative potential of Sámi ways of knowing, doing, and being. More info on her academic work: https://www.syke.fi/en-US/Experts/Anna_Ott(64689)


Scientific Coffee Human-Forest-Relationships

Let’s sit and talk in the scientific café! The “Scientific Coffee HFR” sessions give room for open and relaxed discussions on current research subjects related to human and society relations to forests. It warmly welcomes all interested in forest-related research to join online sessions.

Each session lasts approximately two hours. It starts with a 30-minute presentation by a guest speaker. After the presentation, with coffee or tea and cookies at hand, participants have plenty of room for an open discussion and exchange.

The “Scientific Coffee HFR” takes place two to three times per semester on Wednesday afternoons.

Guest speakers wanted! If you are interested in contributing to the “Scientific Coffee HFR”, please contact either judith.kiss@uni-jena.de or tuulikki.halla@uef.fi with info on your subject (title and short abstract) and a preferred Wednesday (13-15 CET / 14-16 EET).

The idea for a scientific coffee HFR came up during a cooperation between Finnish and German researchers in 2021. The Finnish research project Human-Forest Relationships in Societal Change and the German research group Mentalities im Flux (flumen) organized the workshop “Contested Society-Nature-Relations. Forest related Emotions, Practices & Conflicts in Times of Societal Change” in May 2021. The first “Scientific Coffee HFR” session was held in September 2021.

The “Scientific Coffee HFR” is organized by: