Article | Valuation Studies | Weight, Density and Space in the Norwegian Reindeer Crisis–Notes Towards a Critique

Weight, Density and Space in the Norwegian Reindeer Crisis–Notes Towards a Critique
Hugo Reinert: Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia / Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
For decades now, the dominant narrative about indigenous reindeer pastoralism in northern Norway has been that there is a crisis of excess: an oversized reindeer population, poorly held in check by poorly governed herders, is overgrazing the tundra, degrading the pasture grounds, spilling over into urban spaces and precipitating moral crises by starving to death “out there,” on the tundra. Set against the background of this ongoing crisis, the present paper focuses on a set of particularly dense conceptual intersections that cluster around the notion of weight , and the manner in which weight functions both as a crisis indicator and a metric for assessment in contemporary Norwegian pastoral governance. Tracing the work and structure of the weight concept as applied to reindeer–against a dominant government narrative that parses numerical indicators as neutral, objective and apolitical–the paper outlines some of the erasures that the weight metric simultaneously carries out and occludes. The aim of the exercise is to specify and critically reframe certain core issues in the current management of Norwegian pastoralism, by problematising the supposedly neutral, scientific operation of quantitative metrics and assessment practices.
Crisis; reindeer; pastoralism; space; indicators; assessment
No. of pages:
Publication type:

Volume 2, Issue: 2, Article 4, 2014

Hugo Reinert
Weight, Density and Space in the Norwegian Reindeer Crisis–Notes Towards a Critique:

Anderson, Benedict. 2006 [1983]. Imagined Communities. London: Verso.

Benjaminsen, Tor A., Hugo Reinert, Mikkel Nils Sara, and Espen Sjaastad. Forthcoming. “Misreading the Arctic Landscape.” Norwegian Journal of Geography.

Benjaminsen, Tor A., Inger Marie Gaup Eira, and Mikkel Nils Sara, eds. Forthcoming. Samisk reindrift, norske myter. Trondheim: Fagbokforlaget.

Bjørklund, Ivar. 1991. “Samisk reindrift som pastoral tilpasningsform.” In Forvaltning av våre fellesressurser, edited by Nils C. Stenseth, Nina Trandem and Gørill Kristiansen, 181–188. Oslo: Ad Notam.

Bjørklund, Ivar, ed. 1999a. Norsk ressursforvaltning og samiske rettsforhold. Oslo: Ad Notam.

Bjørklund, Ivar. 1999b. “Den nasjonale integrasjon av det samiske reindrifts-samfunn.” In Norsk Ressursforvaltning og Samiske Rettsforhold, edited by Ivar Bjørklund, 52–65. Oslo: Ad Notam.

Bjørklund, Ivar. 2000. “Norges Ansvar.” Dagbladet March 15.

Bjørklund, Ivar. 2004. “Saami Pastoral Society in Northern Norway: The national Integration of an Indigenous Management System.” In Cultivating Arctic Landscapes, edited by David Anderson and Mark Nuttall, 124–135. Oxford: Berghahn.

Bjørklund, Ivar, and Odd Brantenberg. 1981. Samisk reindriftnorske inngrep. Tromsø: Universitetsforlaget.

Bjørklund, Ivar, and Harald Eidheim. 1999. “Om reinmerker—Kulturelle sammenhenger og norsk jus i Sapmi.” In Norsk ressursforvaltning og samiske rettsforhold, edited by Ivar Bjørklund, 143–157. Oslo: Ad Notam.

Borgenvik, Erik Johan. 2014. “When You Think Like the State—The Political Ecology of Pastoral Modernization in Finnmark, Norway.” Master’s thesis, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1994. “Rethinking the State: On the Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field.” Sociological Theory 12 (1): 1–19. DOI: 10.2307/202032

Foucault, Michel. 2003. Society Must Be Defended. New York: Picador.

Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1057/9780230245075

Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1057/9780230594180

Hansen, Thomas, and Finn Stepputat, eds. 2001. States of Imagination. London: Duke University Press. DOI: 10.1215/9780822381273

Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575–599. DOI: 10.2307/3178066

Hausner, Vera, Per Fauchald, Torkild Tveraa, Elisabeth Pedersen, Johnny-Leo Jernsletten, Birgitte Ulvevadet, Rolf Ims, Nigel Yoccoz, and Kari Bråthen. 2011. “The Ghost of Development Past.” Ecology and Society 16 (3): 4.

Haywood, Gordon, Johan Nilsson, Michael Franklin, Paul Gilbert, Linus Johansson Krafve, Lisa Linden, Mark MacGillivray, and Robert Meckin. 2014. “Valuation Studies: A Collaborative Valuation in Practice.” Valuation Studies 2 (1): 71–85. DOI: 10.3384/vs.2001-5992.142171

Hobart, Angela, and Bruce Kapferer. 2012. Contesting the State. Wantage: Sean Kingston Press.

Hobart, Mark. 1993. An Anthropological Critique of Development. London: Routledge.

Holand, Øystein. 2007. “Herd Composition and Slaughtering Strategy in Reindeer Husbandry—Revisited.” Rangifer 27 (3): 123–124. DOI: 10.7557/

Holbraad, Martin, and Morten Axel Pedersen. 2014. “The Politics of Ontology,” FieldsightsCultural Anthropology Online January 13.

Johnsen, Kathrine Ivsett. 2014. “The Paradox of Reindeer Pasture Management in Finnmark, Norway.” Online feature, Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of Development of the Arctic., accessed October 1, 2014.

Johnsen, Kathrine Ivsett. Forthcoming. ”Medbestemmelse, makt og mistillit i reindrifts-forvaltningen.” In Samisk reindrift, norske myter, edited by Tor Benjaminsen, Inger Marie Gaup Eira, and Mikkel Nils Sara. Oslo: Akademika.

Johnsen, Kathrine Ivsett, Tor Benjaminsen, and Inger Marie Gaup Eira. Forthcoming. “Seeing Like the State—Or Like Pastoralists? Conflicting Narratives on the Governance of Sámi Reindeer Husbandry in Finnmark, Norway.” Norwegian Journal of Geography.

Kolers, Avery. 2000. “The Lockean Efficiency Argument and Aboriginal Land Rights.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78 (3): 391–404. DOI: 10.1080/00048400012349671

Lenvik, Dag. 1990. “Flokkstrukturering—Tiltak for lønnsom og ressurs-tilpasset reindrift.” Rangifer 4: 21–35. DOI: 10.7557/

Lenvik, Dag, Ole Grannefjell, and Johannes Tamnes. 1982. “Kalvetap fra en ny synsvinkel.” Rangifer 2 (App 1): 62–74.

Li, Tania. 2007. The Will to Improve. London: Duke University Press. DOI: 10.1215/9780822389781

LMD [Department of Agriculture and Food]. 2002. “Om dyrehold og dyrevelferd.” Stortingsmelding Nr. 12 (2002–2003)

LMD [Department of Agriculture and Food]. 2008a. “Kriterier/indikatorer på økologisk bærekraftig reintall.”

LMD [Department of Agriculture and Food]. 2008b. “Veileder for fastsetting av økologisk bærekraftig reintall.”

LMD [Department of Agriculture and Food]. 2008c. “Høring: Rapport om kriterier/indikatorer for økologisk bærekraftig reindrift.” Høringsuttalelse Reinbeitedistrikt 16—Karasjok Vest.

LMD [Department of Agriculture and Food]. 2012. “Tale: Velkommen til Bords!” Archived speech.

Mathiesen, Svein, Bjørn Alfthan, Robert Corell, Ravdna Eira, Inger Marie Eira, Anna Degteva, Kathrine Johnsen, Anders Oskal, Marie Roué, Mikkel Nils Sara, Eli Ristin Skum, Ellen Inga Turi, and Johan Mathis Turi. 2013. “Strategies to enhance the resilience of Sami reindeer husbandry to rapid changes in the Arctic.” In Arctic Council: Arctic Resilience Interim Report, 109–112. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Oskal, Anders Isak. 1999. “Tradisjonelle vurderinger av livdyr.” Rangifer Report 3: 121–124. DOI: 10.7557/

Oskal, Nils. 2000. “On Nature and Reindeer Luck.” Rangifer 20 (2–3): 175–180. DOI: 10.7557/2.20.2-3.1511

Oskal, Nils. 2001. “Political Inclusion of the Sámi as Indigenous Peoples in Norway.” International Journal of Minority and Group Rights 8: 235–261. DOI: 10.1163/15718110120908411

Oskal, Nils, Ole-Henrik Magga, and Mikkel-Nils Sara. 2003. “Dyrevelferd i samisk kultur.” Report to LMD, published with Samisk Høgskole.

Paine, Robert. 1964. “Herding and Husbandry: Two Basic Distinctions in the Analysis of Reindeer Management.” Folk 6 (1): 83–88.

Paine, Robert. 1971. “Animals as Capital: Comparisons Among Northern Nomadic Herders and Hunters.” Anthropological Quarterly 44 (3): 157–172. DOI: 10.2307/3316936

Paine, Robert, ed. 1977. The White ArcticAnthropological Essays on Tutelage and Ethnicity. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Paine, Robert. 1992. “Social Construction of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ and Saami Reindeer Pastoralism.” Acta Borealia 2: 3–20. DOI: 10.1080/08003839208580413

Paine, Robert. 1994. Herds of the Tundra. London: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Paine, Robert. 2004. “Saami Reindeer Pastoralism: Quo vadis?” Ethnos 69 (1): 23–42. DOI: 10.1080/0014184042000191816

Porter, Theodore. 1995. Trust in Numbers. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Reinert, Erik. 2006. “The Economics of Reindeer Herding: Saami Entrepreneurship Between Cyclical Sustainability and the Powers of State and Oligopolies.” British Food Journal 108 (7): 522–540. DOI: 10.1108/00070700610676352

Reinert, Erik, Iulie Aslaksen, Inger-Marie Gaup Eira, Svein Mathiesen, Hugo Reinert, and Ellen-Inga Turi. 2009. “Adapting to Climate Change in Reindeer Herding—The Nation-State as Problem and Solution.” In Adapting to Climate Change, edited by W. Neil Adger, Irene Lorenzoni & Karen O’Brien, 417–432. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Reinert, Hugo. 2008. The Corral and the Slaughterhouse. PhD diss., University of Cambridge.

Reinert, Hugo. 2012a. “Knives for the Slaughter.” Acta Borealia 29 (1): 35–55. DOI: 10.1080/08003831.2012.678719

Reinert, Hugo. 2012b. “The Disposable Surplus—Notes on Waste, Reindeer and Biopolitics.” Laboratorium 4 (3): 67–83.

Reinert, Hugo. 2014. “Entanglements—Intimacy and Nonhuman Ethics.” Society & Animals 22 (1): 42–56. DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341318

Reinert, Hugo, Svein Mathiesen, and Erik Reinert. 2010. “Climate Change and Pastoral Flexibility.” In Political Economy of Northern Regional Development, vol. 1, edited by Gorm Winther, 189–204. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers.

Sara, Mikkel-Nils. 2001. ReinenEt Gode fra Vinden. Karasjok: Davvi Girji.

Scott, James. 1998. Seeing like a State. London: Yale University Press.

Star, Susan Leigh, and James Griesemer. 1989. “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907–39.” Social Studies of Science 19 (3): 387–420. DOI: 10.1177/030631289019003001

Statens Reindriftsforvaltning. 2014. Ressursregnskap for reindriftsnæringen. Alta: Statens Reindriftsforvaltning.

Stengers, Isabel, and Erik Bordeleau. 2011. “The Care of the Possible: Isabelle Stengers interviewed by Erik Bordeleau.” Scapegoat Iss. 1: 12–17, 27.

Strøm-Bull, Kirsti, Nils Oskal, and Mikkel Nils Sara. 2001. Reindriften i FinnmarkRettshistorie 18521960. Oslo: Cappelen.

Taussig, Michael. 1992. The Nervous System. London: Routledge.

Tyler, N., J. M. Turi, M. A. Sundset, K. Strøm Bull, M. N. Sara, E. Reinert, N. Oskal, C. Nelleman, J. McCarthy, S. Mathiesen, M. Martello, O. H. Magga, G. Hovelsrud, I. Hanssen-Bauer, N. I. Eira, I.-M. Gaup Eira, and R. Corell. 2007. “Saami Reindeer Pastoralism under Climate Change: Applying a Generalized Framework for Vulnerability Studies to a Sub-Arctic Social-Ecological System.” Global Environmental Change 17: 191–206. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.06.001

Vitebsky, Piers, and Anatoly Alekseyev. 2014. “What Is a Reindeer? Indigenous Perspectives from Northeast Siberia.” Polar Record, first view article: 1–9.

WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development). 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Volume 2, Issue: 2, Article 4, 2014

Hugo Reinert
Weight, Density and Space in the Norwegian Reindeer Crisis–Notes Towards a Critique:
Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
  • Matthew Gwynfryn Thomas, Marius Warg Næss, Bård-Jørgen Bårdse & Ruth Mace (2016). Smaller Saami Herding Groups Cooperate More in a Public Goods Experiment. Human Ecology, 44(5): 633. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-016-9848-3
  • Hugo Reinert (2016). On the Shore: Thinking Water at a Prospective Mining Site in Northern Norway. Society & Natural Resources, 29(6): 711. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1132352
  • Hugo Reiner & Tor A. Benjaminsen (2015). Conceptualising resilience in Norwegian Sámi reindeer pastoralism. Resilience, 3(2): 95. DOI: 10.1080/21693293.2014.988916
  • John Law (2015). What's wrong with a one-world world?. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 16(1): 126. DOI: 10.1080/1600910X.2015.1020066
  • Export in BibTex, RIS or text