Internal colonisation and Indigenous resource sovereignty: Wind power developments on traditional Saami lands

Rebecca Lawrence*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Using the concept of internal colonisation, this paper aims to demonstrate how current disputes over wind power developments in traditional Saami mountain areas have reignited contestations between Saami people and the Swedish state. It traces the historical continuities in these contestations. It also analyses shifts in the discourses legitimising the state’s nonrecognition of Saami rights to land. The paper explores three discursive frameworks that reflect these continuities and shifts. First, it traces contestations over the ownership of ‘Crown’ (ie, state) land and the paternalistic practices of the state. Second, it explores how a discourse of renewable energy is currently being mobilised to argue that Saami interests must necessarily give way to broader environmental concerns. Third, it analyses how long-standing colonial rationalities are rearticulated through market relations, as the state seeks to construct a pseudo planning market for wind power developments, which necessarily excludes Saami interests. These debates, and the ongoing resistances by Saami people to industrial encroachments on their traditional territories, highlight the fundamentally unresolved relations between the Saami and the non-Indigenous majority society in Sweden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1053
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Internal colonisation
  • Resource sovereignty
  • Saami
  • Sweden
  • Wind power

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