A Woman among the Sami, 1907–1908
Emilie Demant Hatt
Edited and translated by Barbara Sjoholm
Foreword by Hugh Beach
A classic travel account, vividly depicting Sami life in Lapland in the early twentieth century.
With the Lapps in the High Mountains is an entrancing true account, a classic of travel literature, and a work that deserves wider recognition as an early contribution to ethnographic writing. Published in 1913 and available here in its first English translation, it is the narrative of Emilie Demant Hatt’s nine-month stay in the tent of a Sami family in northern Sweden in 1907–8 and her participation in a dramatic reindeer migration over snow-packed mountains to Norway with another Sami community in 1908. A single woman in her thirties, Demant Hatt immersed herself in the Sami language and culture. She writes vividly of daily life, women’s work, children’s play, and the care of reindeer herds in Lapland a century ago.
While still an art student in Copenhagen in 1904, Demant Hatt had taken a vacation trip to northern Sweden, where she chanced to meet Sami wolf hunter Johan Turi. His dream of writing a book about his people sparked her interest in the culture, and she began to study the Sami language at the University of Copenhagen. Though not formally trained as an ethnographer, she had an eye for detail. The journals, photographs, sketches, and paintings she made during her travels with the Sami enriched her eventual book, and in With the Lapps in the High Mountains she memorably portrays people, dogs, reindeer, and the beauty of the landscape above the Arctic Circle.
This English-language edition also includes photographs by Demant Hatt, an introduction by translator Barbara Sjoholm, and a foreword by Hugh Beach, author of A Year in Lapland: Guest of the Reindeer Herders.
Demant Hatt’s account is fascinating and fills an important gap, since it differs substantially from existing books in English on Sami ethnohistory and reindeer herding life.
—Alexander D. King, University of Aberdeen
Barbara Sjoholm’s graceful and sensitive translation of Emilie Demant Hatt’s classic ethnographic memoir opens to an English-language readership a Sápmi of a century ago, when herding Sami were born, grew up, and died in a life shaped by the seasonal migration of their reindeer and their culture’s age-old traditions for effective life in Scandinavia’s far north. It is a land and culture gripped in change, and Demant Hatt chronicles the issues and injustices that face the Sami of her day, while exploring continuities in tradition and worldview that seem to stretch back into time immemorial. Demant Hatt’s insightful observations of daily life, jovial narrative style, and at times impassioned pleas for the culture she had come to love make her With the Lapps in the High Mountains an essential source for anyone interested in the culture of Sami people or in the shaping of a female ethnographic voice in the history of anthropology.
—Thomas A. DuBois, University of Wisconsin
With the Lapps in the High Mountains is a fascinating, engaging window into the lives of Sami herders in the early 1900s, especially the work and play of Sami women and children. Sjoholm’s introduction provides helpful biographical and historical information about the author, Emilie Demant Hatt, and the Sami, while Demant Hatt’s ethnography is vivid and informative – a treasure trove of ethnographic and historical information for scholars of Sami and other pastoralists, especially those interested in gender dynamics, domestic life, and social relations.
—Dorothy L. Hodgson, Rutgers University
An important and significant contribution to the history of anthropology and ethnography. Weaving artful description and personal narrative, Demant Hatt recounts a story that, until now, has been largely unknown to English-speaking anthropologists and ethnographers. Many perhaps know of her collaboration with Johan Turi, but this work sheds further light on Demant Hatt’s role as an observant participant involved in the daily lives of Sami people. Thanks to Barbara Sjoholm’s careful and skillful translation, Demant Hatt’s work is fortunately now available to a much larger audience.
—Luke Eric Lassiter, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography
EMILIE DEMANT HATT:
Emilie Demant Hatt (1873–1958) became a prominent artist in Denmark. She helped Johan Turi write and publish his book, An Account of the Sami, which appeared in 1910 in an innovative bilingual Sami/Danish edition. Visit http://www.emiliedemanthatt.com to learn more about this remarkable woman.