Semiotics of pride and profit: interrogating commodification in indigenous handicraft production
Dlaske, K. (2014). Semiotics of pride and profit: interrogating commodification in indigenous handicraft production. Social Semiotics, 24 (5), 582-598. doi:10.1080/10350330.2014.943459
Published inSocial Semiotics
© Taylor & Francis. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published at 10.1080/10350330.2014.943459 by Taylor & Francis.
This study investigates the shifting terrain of pride, profit and power relations in minority language communities under contemporary globalisation. While “pride” associates linguistic-cultural heritage with identity and preservation, “profit” views these as sources of economic gain. In contemporary late capitalism, “pride” seems to be increasingly giving way to “profit”. Arguing that this transformation needs to be interrogated in terms of complexity and that a detailed, multilayered semiotic analysis can open a privileged window for such an inquiry, this study combines critical multimodal discourse analysis and an ethnographic approach to analyse processes of semiotic commodification in handicraft production in the indigenous minority language community of the Sámi in northern Lapland. The investigation focuses on the activities of an innovative Sámi artist and entrepreneur, and within these a range of paper notebooks, which are, although designed by the Sámi artist and sold in her handicraft shop in Lapland, produced by women living at the border of Thailand and Laos. The investigation illuminates two critical shifts: how the move towards profit can open up space to contest the ownership of pride within an ethnic community. Second, how this move makes way for new, globalised modes of production of ‘indigenous handicrafts’ and creates global vectors of power, engaged in both empowerment and exploitation, in the production of both pride and profit. The study thereby contributes to the understanding of the increasingly complex power relations and the ambivalence and multiple effects of practices constituting the apparent shift from “pride” to “profit”. ...