Reindeer in Finland. Dreamstime/Moori

Norse-Saami Relations in the Medieval Period

Who were the Saami? And what was the dynamic character of the relationship between the Saami and the Norse Peoples? New book aims to decolonise the perspective.

Decolonising Medieval Fennoscandia. An Interdisciplinary Study of Norse-Saami Relations in the Medieval Period
By Solveig Marie Wang
Series: Religious Minorities in the North
DeGruyter 2023


The interdisciplinary study investigates the relationship between Norse and Saami peoples in the medieval period and focuses on the multifaceted portrayal of Saami peoples in medieval texts. The investigative analysis is anchored in postcolonial methodologies and argues for the inherent need to decolonise the medieval source material and recent historiography.

This goal is achieved by presenting the historiographic and political background of research into Norse-Saami relations before introducing an overview of textual sources discussing Saami peoples from the classical period to the late 1400s, an analysis of the textual motifs associated with the Saami in medieval literature (their relevance and prevalence), geo-political affairs, trading relations, personal relations and Saami presence in the south.

By using decolonising tools to read Norse-Saami relations in medieval texts, influenced by archaeological material and postcolonial frameworks, the study challenges lingering colonial assumptions about the role of the Saami in Norse society. The current research episteme is re-adjusted to offer alternative readings of Saami characters, emphasising agency, fluidity and the dynamic realities of the Saami medieval pasts.


  • Introduction
  • Classical and Medieval Written Sources on the Saami
  • The Saami Motif-Cluster
  • Northern Fennoscandian Politics and Spatial Belonging
  • The Saami Trade
  • Liminal Identities and Fluid Spaces? Norse-Saami Personal Relationships
  • Saami in the South: Sources and Societies
  • Reassessing Norse-Saami Relations in the Medieval Period: Conclusion


Dr. Solveig Marie Wang is seniorresearcher working on the DFG-Projekt “Mission vor der Kolonialisierung – Eine Neubewertung des religiösen Kontakts in Grönland und Sápmi zwischen 1000 und 1700”



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