Landscapes Without History

Keerti Nair

Reassembling the Earth


Jazairy El Hadi


The Sami people of Sapmi which stretches across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia– the native people of the Arctic have for long been fighting for their rights to land that has been retained as indigenous commons for many centuries. The Sami people have been reindeer herders for just as long and the right to indigenous common lands is the right to herd and migrate with their reindeer with the seasons. Exploitative forces in the past century have sought to privatize, extract and deforest this land creating new landscapes that are devoid of history or memory. The struggle for Sami rights to this land have not always worked in their favour. Sites of extraction are perfect examples of anthropogenic destructive practices that impact the landscape and those that inhabit it. The reindeer travel with the seasons and seek out signs within the landscape to guide them. In envisioning a space to sustain the knowledge of the Sami people, an institution of power is created which offers a chance to the Sami people to reclaim agency and physical space. In keeping with the movements of the reindeer through the seasons and the activities undertaken by the Sami people and their herd, a series of markers in the landscape are created. Each intervention is representative of the space that has historically been their commons and serves to educate and include. The route of migration is not a constant but restricting human movement to a singular route is a powerful sign of submission to the non-human elements. The nomadic institute can bring in outsiders to the Sami culture who can immerse themselves in a seasonal cycle of learning, observing and yielding to the Arctic landscape. The markers serve as a reminder that the land has history and meaning to non-human elements.