Research project description

Music for Health and Well-being in Arctic Indigenous Cultures

Project director: Klisala Harrison

Funded by the Academy of Finland, 2016-2021

Many studies have proved that music promotes health and well-being. There is also research evidence about how social factors—such as autonomy, social status and social cohesion—influence well-being and health. Recent studies have shown how Arctic people suffer from—in addition to the long-lasting effects of colonialism—the radically increasing economic-ecological exploitation of their living areas and rapid modernization. These respectively cause experiences of lack of self-determination as well as of erosion of social and cultural cohesion that is demonstrated, among other ways, by suicide statistics. This research combines these perspectives in innovative ways. It studies via ethnographic, participatory action and survey methods how and to which extent Sámi and Inuit musicking (musical practices and social relations created by them) promotes experiences of self-determination, social status and social cohesion and therewith, senses of well-being.

The sites of this research are Greenland, Sápmi (northern Finland, Sweden and Norway) as well as Arctic Canada.


Fieldwork Photos

Recording music for a documentary film in Greenland.


Klisala Harrison discusses with musician Sofia Carolina Hernandez Mejia in western Greenland.


With Greenlandic drummer Joseph Joelsen.


Doing fieldwork on a skidoo in Sápmi; a day on the land with medical doctor and academic Heidi Eriksen & family.



Sámi joiker Berit Risten Sara (far right) gives a talk to students at the University of Helsinki in a course I co-taught with Prof. Pirkko Moisala (second from right).


Warm thanks to all of the artists and community members supporting this research!