In defense of Dr. Erika Sarivaara

Scheller Elisabeth elisabeth.scheller at
Mon May 6 09:57:00 UTC 2013

Dear Erika Sarivaara, members of the URA-list, and other research colleagues

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been made familiar with the content of some discussions on Prof. Pekka Sammallahti's Facebook site concerning Dr. Erika Sarivaara and her PhD thesis Statuksettomat saamelaiset <> Paikantumisia saamelaisuuden rajoilla<> (2012). In general, Sammallahti's site is none of our business and way beyond our interest. However, the current discussions of Sarivaara and her work signal such a striking absence of common decency that we find it necessary to point out the following:

In case anyone forgot: Sarivaara's thesis has been evaluated by a scientific commitee of competent people in her field of research, and it was accepted. Obviously, Sammallahti and some of his Facebook friends find some aspects of Sarivaara's thesis problematic. That is not problematic at all. What is problematic though, is their totally disrespectful way of making fun of Sarivaara and her research in a semiofficial forum on the Internet. Even her mental health has been called into question.

In fact, the comments on Prof. Sammallahti's Facebook site say nothing at all about Erika Sarivaara. What they do say, is that some people who find themselves in front of the research field they pursue, seem to lack: 1) social media competence, and 2) basic understanding of research ethics.

In the future, we hope that the important questions that our colleague raises in her thesis will be discussed in the professional, scientific, and, last but not least, respectful way that Sarivaara, like any other researcher, deserves.


With kind regards,

Elisabeth Scheller
PhD Student in Saami sociolinguistics
University of Tromsø
elisabeth.scheller at<mailto:elisabeth.scheller at>

Åse Mette Johansen
PhD Student in Nordic languages
University of Tromsø
ase.mette.johansen at<mailto:ase.mette.johansen at>

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