Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Ekaterina Zmyvalova
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting local and international social scientists to present state-of-the-art research within various areas of law and society.
Sámi children’s right to learn their indigenous language and its enforcement at school in Russia
In the Russian Federation, Sámi is one of 47 Indigenous peoples officially recognized as Indigenous peoples. According to the data of the latest Population Census carried out in 2010, there live 1771 Sámi persons in Russia. Most of the Russian Sámi population lives in the territory of the Murmansk Oblast which is part of traditional Sámi land, Sápmi, stretching also to Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Sámi population in the Murmansk Oblast constitutes 1599 persons.
Traditionally, four Sámi languages were used in the territory of the Russian Sápmi. They were Kildin, Skolt, Ter, and Akkala Sámi. The Kildin Sami language is the widest spoken Sami language in the Kola Peninsula and it is the only language that is taught at schools in Russia.
Russia signed and ratified most of the international legal acts guaranteeing the right of Sámi children to learn their language at school. The federal legislation and the legislation of the Murmansk Oblast also provide for this right. Despite its legal recognition, the implementation of the right is challenging. The challenges are of different character: organisational, administrative, personal, legal, etc.
Ekaterina Zmyvalova's PhD project has a multidisciplinary character. It has elements of both legal studies and social science studies. She employs legal method, indigenous methodologies, interviews, and observations.
The objective of the study is to analyse how the right to learn their own language by Sámi children at school in Russia is enforced in the Lovozero village school. To this end, she analyses how the right in focus is set forth in the international law and the Russian federal and regional legislation; discovers Sámi’s experience of the enforcement practice of the right in focus in the Lovozero school; aims to find out what are de facto needs of the Sámi community to be included into in legal rules.
Ekaterina Zmyvalova is a PhD student in Sámi studies at Umeå University. Zmyvalova’s research interests lie in socio-legal studies and indigenous research methodologies. In her PhD project, she examines how the right of the Sámi children in Russia to learn their language at school is enforced.
Zmyvalova published articles and book chapters dedicated to various rights of Indigenous peoples in Russia, inter alia the right to learn their indigenous language and traditional fishing rights. Zmyvalova also committed some of her works to the human rights of indigenous peoples in Russia and challenges of their implementation due to, among other things, impediments to the legal provisions regulating the status of indigenous small-numbered peoples, problematic attribution of individual members of indigenous communities to indigenous small-numbered peoples, the issue is the application of the notion ‘foreign agent’ to individuals and non-commercial organizations, and the state’s pressure on independent indigenous organizations.