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65 509 Lively Worlds in Meahcci Landscapes

Full course name in English: 
Lively Worlds in Meahcci Landscapes
65 509
Syklus 2
2020 Høst
2020 Høst
Kjerstin Uhre

Bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture or Architecture from university or university college.

Recommended previous knowledge is working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. CAD and GIS an advantage.

Om emnet

This master studio course in landscape architecture focuses on traditional ecological knowledge in
contemporary Arctic landscape practices. Within the territorial scope of North Fennoscandia, this
includes the prospects of Sámi reindeer husbandry, coastal fishery, small scale agriculture, gathering
and harvesting food resources and materials. In transition, Indigenous landscape practices represent
a continuum of lively worlds finding new forms, and some are in the process of disappearing while
emerging practices introduce new ways of relating to the cultural landscapes. Through interpretative
mapping and landscape design methodologies, this studio aims to explore how incipient landscapes
shape capacity for resistance in time.

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is described as a cumulative body of knowledge, practice
and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural
transmission, see Berkes and Davidson-Hunt (2006). A cold climate and demanding weather
conditions will often brutally correct any lack of knowledge, and hence inspire an appreciation and
respect for shared traditional knowledge. This can be traced in for instance clothes, knives,
agricultural tools, fishing equipment and boats. The landscapes of Western Finnmark stretches from
the fjords and coastal mountains where reindeer herds reside in the summers, via river valleys with
meandering rivers, to the mountain plateau that offers winter pastures. People have adapted to the
different conditions through a combination of livelihoods and exchange of produce and services.
Along with the coast fishing, farming and seasonal work were combined, and in the inland, the
agriculture was combined with freshwater fishing and harvesting. The Sámi concept verdde (guestfriend)
describes the relationship of exchange between the reindeer pastoralists and mountain
farmers in the inland and with the farmer fishers at the coast.

The Alta area has been described as the meeting place between the Sámi, Norwegian, and Kven
culture. The way individuals identify with cultural roots may be mixed, fluid and ambiguous while the
connections to the landscape are strong. Russian and international citizens also bring with them
habitual manners of connecting to the landscape. Exploring a multicultural field can be both
challenging and inspiring, and in many parts of the world, multiple cultures strive to learn to live
closely together and share common resources. During the last 20 years, nature-based tourism has
established itself as an up and coming industry in Alta. Small scale locally owned establishments
introducing new ways of inviting guests into the landscape offer Arctic experiences varying from dogsledging,
snowshoeing, all-season mountain biking, snowmobile, canoeing, hiking and cooking. Many
of them are located in the river valley, and they are dependent on having access to territories outside
their plots, using old postal and hiking routes crossing the landscape. In the mountain plateaus close
to Kautokeino and Karasjok nature-based tourism businesses cooperate closely with reindeer

Currently, a truth and reconciliation commission formed by the Norwegian Parliament is inquiring
into the consequences of the Norwegianisation policy suffered by the Sámi and Kven populations.
The Norwegianisation policy lasted from 1860 to 1980. In the environmental history of Sápmi, the
controversy of the Alta-Kautokeino watercourse became a turning point in the relationship between
the Sámi and the Norwegian State. In general, it can be said about the current situation that, through
Section 108 of the Norwegian Constitution and the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the
Norwegian State obliges the State to take decisive measures to safeguard Sámi and national minority
cultures. Since the 1980s, Sámi culture is revitalized through diverse ways of developing and
connecting to Sámi heritage and identity. However, Sámi reindeer husbandry practitioners, the
minority within the minority, still experiences severe pressures that first and foremost is due to loss
of grazing land and increasing activity and industrialization of outfield landscapes. There is a
considerable pressure to develop rural landscapes for large scale industry, mining, energy plants and
infrastructure. Some of these new developments will change the perception of the Arctic landscapes,
and also present new preconditions for traditional ways of using natural resources. The legislation
that regulates outfield industries is fragmented between sector authorities. This situation leads
according to Nikolay Winge (2013) to a bit-by-bit development and increasingly fragmented outlying

Outlying fields or outfields (in Norwegian: utmark) is often used synonymously to the North Sámi
term meahcci. In 2007, the Sámi Parliament’s guidelines for changed use of Meahcci under § 4 in the
Finnmark Act came into force. The guidelines aim to ensure thorough and sound assessment of the
effects on Sami culture, reindeer husbandry, land usage, commercial practice and community life
before decisions are made in cases of changed use of meahcci/utmark. Joks, Law, and Østmo, (2019)
notes that this narrow meaning of meahcci is rooted in a series of mistranslations between Sámi and
Norwegian terms, practices and interests. To use landscape terms that draw sharp lines between
nature and humans' place in the world breaks with both the Sámi usage of natural resources and
Sámi terminology. Schanche (2002) suggests that Sámi perceptions of the landscape may be tied to
other concepts and ways of understanding the world. Law and Østmo (2017) concur that: 'It is a
world in which a binary distinction between nature and culture makes no sense'. Landscape
architectural representations are mediated worldviews. Will exposure to Indigenous worldviews,
landscape practices and traditional ecological knowledge lead to new ways of doing landscape
architecture? By engaging with traditional landscape practices to develop an understanding of
territorial processes and by considering traditional ecological knowledge in landscape design, we will
learn to challenge measures of landscape value.

During the work with this course description, the cascading effects of the corona emergency
measures demonstrated how vulnerable our societies are to restrictions on mobility. Norway
produces less than 50% of its food, and the farmers are dependent on seasonal workers from abroad.
In many rural places, small scale experience-based tourism and culture festivals dependent on
tourists and guests suffered significant losses. For reindeer husbandry, the corona crisis came on top
of a grazing crisis due to the worst snow conditions since 1968. Globally, the discourses on climate
mitigation, climate justice and loss of biodiversity were overshadowed by the pandemic crisis. How
the governance of human interaction, teaching and learning activities will play out in the fall is still
uncertain. What we do know is that the current situation calls for new ways of learning and relating
to landscape, community and biodiversity.


Knowledge about
• The environmental history of Fennoscandia and Sápmi.
• Traditional ecological knowledge
• Contemporary landscape practices in the European Arctic
• Planning legislation with an emphasis on consultation and participatory processes
• The European Landscape Convention, the Finnmark Act (Finnmarksloven) and the Norwegian
Law of Biodiversity (Naturmangfoldsloven).

Skills in
• Design research and conceptualization, program development and design of landscape
• Collecting, recording and representing aesthetic experiences in the landscape
• Visually communicating time, territorial processes, and the lifespan of a landscape project
• Interpretative mapping and landscape representation in combined digital and analogue tools

General competence in
• Independent collection and production of relevant information for the development of
landscape architecture.
• Independent and reflected usage of different representation techniques.
• Inclusive concept and design development.
• Critical reflection on landscape valuation methodologies

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

Through theoretical and practical approaches in design research, we will learn from the landscape
practices that have shaped and cultivated Arctic territories. Step-by-step project development with
individual supervision, frequent reviews and dialogue with guest reviewers organise the semester.
Reviews of academic literature on the topics of Arctic landscape practices, critical cartography, and
traditional ecological knowledge. Reflections on Arctic film, writing, and art.
Lectures by experts and practitioners on the following topics: Meahcci (outfield) practices including
reindeer husbandry, environmental history and landscape management in North
Fennoscandia/Sápmi, Indigenous rights, planning and building legislation, traditional ecological
knowledge, responsible tourism and landscape architecture.
If the Norwegian health authority’s travelling and meeting restrictions are lifted, we will have one 10-
14 days of fieldwork in West Finnmark. Alternatively, we will plan for small group/individual hikes to
significant landscapes and arrange a digital interaction follow up in dialogue with experts and


Curriculum, Workshop, Excursions and other support:
The start of the semester will provide a compendium of central texts.

Berkes, Fikret and Davidson-Hunt, Iain J. 2006, “Biodiversity, traditional management
systems, and cultural landscapes: examples from the boreal forest of Canada” in
International Social Science Journal UNESCO, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, USA.
Council of Europe, European Landscape Convention and reference documents
Joks, Solveig, Law, John and Østmo, Liv, 2019 “Verbing Meahcci: no beginning, no end.” URL:
Law, John and Liv Østmo, 2017, “On Land and Lakes: Colonizing the North,” in Technosphere
Magazine, URL: https://technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/p/458a7290-0e3b-11e7-a5d7-f7e271a06d5f
Lovdata, 2007 “Sametingets retningslinjer for utmarksvurdering”
Lovdata, “Lov om rettsforhold og forvaltning av grunn og naturressurser i Finnmark
Lovdata, “Lov om forvaltning av naturens mangfold (naturmangfoldloven) ”
Sannhets- og forsoningskommisjonen, “The commission to investigate the Norwegianisation policy
and injustice against the Sámi and Kven/Norwegian Finnish peoples (The Truth and
Reconciliation Commission)” URL: https://uit.no/kommisjonen/mandat_en
Schanche, Audhild. “Meahcci, den Samiske utmarka/ Meahcci, The Sámi Outfields.” In Andersen,
Svanhild ed. Samiske Landskap og Agenda 21. Kultur, næring, miljøvern og demokrati/ Sámi
Landscapes and Agenda 21, Industry, environmental conservation, and Democracy, Dieđut 1/2002,
Guovdageaidnu: Sámi Instituhtta, 2002.
Winge, Nikolai K, 2013, Kampen om arealene. Rettslige styringsmidler for en helhetlig
utmarksforvaltning (The Battle for Land. Legal steering resources for a comprehensive management
of outlying fields). Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, 2013.

Obligatorisk arbeidskravPåkrevde arbeidskravOppmøte påkrevdKommentar
Annet - spesifiser i kommentarfeltet Ikke påkrevdHand in of all deliverables described in assignments during the semester and applying the course
Participation in fieldwork, lectures, tutorials, workshops and joint reviews is mandatory. If travelling
and meeting restrictions prevail in the fall, we meet and communicate in virtual landscapes.
Obligatoriske arbeidskrav:
Obligatorisk arbeidskrav:Annet - spesifiser i kommentarfeltet
Påkrevde arbeidskrav:
Oppmøte påkrevd:Ikke påkrevd
Kommentar:Hand in of all deliverables described in assignments during the semester and applying the course
Participation in fieldwork, lectures, tutorials, workshops and joint reviews is mandatory. If travelling
and meeting restrictions prevail in the fall, we meet and communicate in virtual landscapes.
ProsjektoppgaveIndividuellBestått / ikke bestått Submission of project with oral presentation.
Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar: Submission of project with oral presentation.