Resilience thinking has growing purchase in the context of Arctic policy, resource management and indigenous politics. The present text outlines and compares two conflicting versions of the resilience concept, both currently at work in the field of contemporary Norwegian Sa ́mi reindeer pastoralism. First, while ecological resilience originally emerged as a challenge to mainstream equilibrium ecology in the 1970s, we identify and discuss here a strand of current research that links ‘resilience’ to the ability of reindeer populations – and ecosystems – to maintain themselves in a steady state. At the same time, another strand of resilience research – developed in large part with (and by) indigenous pastoralists – uses the term to conceptualise the pastoral ecology as a dynamic and unstable system, threatened by factors such as progressive pasture loss, competing land-use forms and the ongoing pressure to ‘modernise’ production. Contrasting these two versions of the resilience concept, we explore some of its potential implications and uses in the context of resistance against dominant political agendas.
Keywords: resilience; pastoralism; reindeer; equilibrium