Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Extremely specific ethnic stereotyping

I have written previously about old odds and ends I've found in the cabin, and how surprisingly often they featured some over-the-top ethnic stereotyping. Here's one which is pretty specific: Mosquito repellent with a brand that plays on preconceived, though in this case mildly benevolent, notions about sami, previously known in english as lapps.

Like "lapp" the term "finn" is considered derogatory today, so this bottle seems very odd. A non-sami will find it more quaint than maddeningly offensive.

Calling a finnish person "finn" is another matter. It's fine.

It's a polar thing.

I have decided I'm going to call people what they want to be called. This becomes sort of silly sometimes, some in Alaska prefer to be called Eskimo but would be called Inuit in Canada, so what's a qallunaaq to think. But in general, it seems like the thing to do.


Gwen Buchanan said...

being a plain ol Canadian, my first guess was that this was a bottle of Vodka... If I would have found it I probably would have been dead by now...

I never was too good at putting the proper labels to persons, places or things or being politically correct... they change them too often and I can't keep track.

Northmark said...

Haha! There is some small writing that says "Do not drink". But once, in real Sami country, I found an old bottle of insect repellant, also Sami-themed, that actually said "also good as salad dressing". Am sorry I didn't take a picture of that one.

Brian and Monica said...

My last name is Laplander. I don't know a lot about my ancestry but that wiki link is interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing

Northmark said...

Wow. I checked to see how many people are called "Laplander" in the US, and almost all have totally normal, "English" Christian names, none have Sami ones.

I have several theories: "Lappi" is a Finnish surname, and meand "Lappland". Lots of names got translated by immigrants, like the German "Scheider" becoming "Taylor".

Or a forefather of yours had a really difficult surname for anglos to write and pronounce, like "Pellompää". The immigration officer tells him "yeah, whatever, let's forget this, where are you from?" and then scrawls "Laplander" in the form.

There's an organisation for descendents of Sami immigrants to the US, the Sami Siida of North America. Maybe they'd know something?

I've met, on several occasions, descendants of Sami in Alaska. Some very interesting stories about migration there.