2014 Conference

Why Context Matters: An Indigenist-Cosmopolitan Analysis of Sami Art, Poetry and Yoik-Songs

Associate Professor Harald Gaski is an associate Professor in Sami literature at the world’s northernmost university, the University of Tromsø, Norway, situated on the 70th latitude. Gaski is the author and editor of several books, journals and articles on Sami literature and culture. The Sami are the indigenous people of the northernmost regions of Fenno-Scandia and the Kola peninsula of Russia. Gaski has been visiting scholar at several universities in the US, Australia, and in Greenland, and is very much used as speaker internationally on Sami issues. Gaski has been instrumental in establishing Sami literature as an academic field. He is a member of the joint coordinating committee of the Norwegian Program for Development, Research and Education (NUFU)-funded research program in Nicaragua conducted as a collaborative project between the University of Tromsø and URACCAN university in Nicaragua. Currently he is also a board member in the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, and the chair of the Sami Non-fiction writers association in Norway.

Gaski's research topics include indigenous peoples’ literatures with a specific emphasis on Sami literature. He has also specialized on oral tradition – especially the transition of the traditional Sami singing, the yoik poetry, into contemporary lyrics. Gaski has participated in translating Sami prose and poetry into English, which can be found in his anthology In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun. Contemporary Sami Prose and Poetry, 1997. He has also translated the award-winning Sami poet Nils-Aslak Valkeapää into Norwegian and English. He has edited Sami Culture in a New Era. The Norwegian Sami Experience, 1997, and published a trilingual book on a Sami myth Biejjien baernie – Sami son of the Sun, 2003. His most recent publication is an annotated collection of Sami proverbs, entitled Time is a Ship that Never Casts Anchor, 2006. He debuted as a writer of fiction books for young adult readers in 2002 (in collaboration with Lars Nordström) with the award-winning book Ciezain cáziin in Sami, published in English in 2004, Seven kinds of water.

In 2006 Gaski was awarded the The Nordic Sami Language Prize, Gollegiella, established by the Nordic Sami Ministers and the Presidents of the Sami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The same year he also received the Award for Outstanding Dissemination of Research at University of Tromsø. In 2005-2006 Gaski served as a member of a Nordic assessment committee to evaluate the quality of the Finno-Ugric education at Swedish universities. The committee was appointed by the National Agency for Higher Education in Sweden. He has recently been appointed to the International Research Advisory Panel for Nga Pae o te Maramatanga the National Institute for Research Excellence in Maori Development and Advancement.