Clothing in the Arctic: A Means of Protection, a Statement of Identity

  • Tom G. Svensson
Keywords: Cold weather clothing, Culture (Anthropology), History, Identity, Kinship, Relocation, Saami, Traditional clothing, Lapin Laani, Finland, Norrland, Sweden


The interest in clothing as a powerful item for cultural inquiry has recently increased among anthropologists. This has to do with its dual connection to habitat and cultural identity, allowing for ecological as well as symbolic analysis. The identification of contexts in which identity is communicated by means of clothing is considered an additional dimension to the study of clothing proper. Clothing is viewed as the most efficient means of non-verbal communication of cultural identity as well as culture-specific values and standards. The communicative power of clothing is especially salient in various inter-ethnic contexts. Referring to the Sami in northern Fennoscandia, clothing appears as an effective ethnic marker. At the same time the vitality of clothing as a material object is evident.

Key words: clothing, ethnicity, Sámi