Woven Identities: Socioeconomic Change, Women’s Agency, and the Making of a Heritage Art in Jølster, Norway

Open access


This article* focuses on the recent history and contemporary practice of a kind of traditional tapestry weaving known as smettvev in the rural county of Jølster in mountainous western Norway. Jølster has a rich fibre arts tradition and a rapidly changing society and economy, which make it an exemplary study in material culture as its fibre arts transform to accommodate these changes. This article draws on ethnographic research and interviews with representative practitioners and community members to examine how conceptions about producer and audience identity and the role of this art form in everyday life have evolved in light of changing context. The article furthermore discusses the ways in which the forms and motifs associated with smettvev are being re-appropriated by local contemporary artists working in other mediums, as well as by individuals and institutions who see smettvev as a symbol of local identity and heritage.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Abrams James F. 1994. Lost Frames of Reference: Sightings of History and Memory in Pennsylvania’s Documentary Landscape. – Conserving Culture: A New Discourse of Heritage edited by Mary Hufford. Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press 24–38.

  • Anderson Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities. London: Verso.

  • Appadurai Arjun. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Bakke Heidi Lise. 2014. Ho har ein utryddingstrua hobby. Førde: NRK Sogn og Fjordane. http://www.nrk.no/sognogfjordane/ho-har-ein-utryddingstrua-hobby-1.11960173 (accessed December 2 2016).

  • Baron Robert. 2010. Sins of Objectification? Agency Mediation and Community Cultural Self-Determination in Public Folklore and Cultural Tourism Programming. – Journal of American Folklore 123: 63–91. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5406/jamerfolk.123.487.0063.

  • Becker Jane S. 1998. Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk 19301940. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.

  • Boon J. A. 1982. Other Tribes Other Scribes: Symbolic Anthropology in the Comparative Study of Cultures Histories Religions and Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Brady Erika. 1994. ‘The River’s Like Our Backyard’: Tourism and Identity in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. – Conserving Culture: A New Discourse of Heritage edited by Mary Hufford. Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press 138–151.

  • Brennpunkt. 2016. Framtidsbonden. Oslo: NRK. https://tv.nrk.no/serie/brennpunkt/mddp11000116/16-02-2016 (accessed December 2 2016).

  • Cashman Ray. 2006. Critical Nostalgia and Material Culture in Northern Ireland. – The Journal of American Folklore 119 (472): 137–160. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jaf.2006.0016.

  • Causey Andrew. 1999. The Singasinga Table Lamp and the Toba Batak Art of Conflation. – The Journal of American Folklore 112 (445): 424–436. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/541370.

  • Dundes Alan. 1966. Metafolklore and Oral Literary Criticism. – The Monist 50 (4): 505–516. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5840/monist196650436.

  • Feltault Kelly 2006. Development Folklife: Human Security and Cultural Conservation. – Journal of American Folklore 119 (471): 90–110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jaf.2006.0006.

  • Førsund Finn Borgen. 2001. Jølster: Hundre år med bygd og bank. Førde: Selja forlag.

  • Glassie Henry. 1973. Structure and Function Folklore and the Artifact. – Semiotica 7 (4): 313–351.

  • Glassie Henry. 2003. Tradition. – Eight Words for the Study of Expressive Culture edited by Burt Feintuch. Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press.

  • Goertzen Chris. 2010. Made in Mexico: Tradition Tourism and Political Ferment in Oaxaca. Jackson MS: University Press of Mississippi.

  • Graburn Nelson H. H. 1984. The Evolution of Tourist Arts. – Annals of Tourism Research 11: 393–419. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0160-7383(84)90029-X.

  • Hufford Mary ed. 1994. Conserving Culture: A New Discourse of Heritage. Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press.

  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett Barbara. 1995. Theorizing Heritage. – Ethnomusicology 39 (3): 367–380. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/924627.

  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett Barbara. 1998. Destination Culture: Tourism Museums and Heritage. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.

  • Mondale Clarence. 1994. Conserving a Problematic Past. – Conserving Culture: A New Discourse of Heritage edited by Mary Hufford. Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press 15–23.

  • Myklebust Bodil. 2013. Litt om åkle frå Jølster: ved Jølster Mållag og Aud Sunde frå åkleregistreringa 1998. Førde. Unpublished manuscript.

  • Noss Aagot. 2005. Jølster og den gamle klesskikken. Oslo: Novus forlag.

  • Ramstad Eva. 2005. Åkle i Sogn og Fjordane: frå seng til vegg. Leikanger: Sogn og Fjordane Husflidslag / SKALD.

  • Røed Larsen Erling. 2006. Escaping the Resource Curse and the Dutch Disease? When and Why Norway Caught up with and Forged Ahead of Its Neighbors. – American Journal of Economics and Sociology 65 (3): 605–640. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1536-7150.2006.00476.x.

  • Salzman Phillip Carl. 2002. On Reflexivity. – American Anthropologist 104 (3): 805–813. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.2002.104.3.805.

  • Simpson Bob. 1993. Tourism and Tradition: From Healing to Heritage. – Annals of Tourism Research 20: 164–181. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0160-7383(93)90116-K.

  • Seitel Peter ed. 2001. Safeguarding Traditional Cultures: A Global Assessment. Washington DC: Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

  • Sogn og Fjordane Husflidslag. 2014. Raudlista: Handverksteknikkar. Flekke Norway: Sogn og Fjordane Husflidslag.

  • Spooner Brian. 1986. Weavers and Dealers: Authenticity and Oriental Carpets. – The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Strauss Anselm. 1956. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead. Chicago IL: The University of Chicago Press.

  • Swain Margaret B. 1993. Women Producers of Ethnic Arts. – Annals of Tourism Research 20: 31–55. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0160-7383(93)90110-O.

  • Tinn Mikkel. 2011. Spilleregler og spillerom: Tradisjonens estetikk. Oslo: Novus forlag.

  • Tuan Yi-Fu. 2004. Place Art and Self. Santa Fe NM: Center for American Places.

  • Urban Institute and The Fund for Folk Culture. 2003. Culture and Commerce: Traditional Arts in Economic Development. Washington DC: The Urban Institute.

  • Widbom Mats and Barbro Klein eds. 1994. Swedish Folk Art: All Tradition is Change. New York NY: Harry N. Abrams.

  • Whisnant David. 1983. All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.

  • Williams Raymond. 1977. Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.18

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.112

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 209 56 3
PDF Downloads 116 52 2