Håkan Rydving's picture
  • E-mailHakan.Rydving@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 24 47
  • Visitor Address
    Øysteins gate 3
    5007 Bergen
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7805
    5020 Bergen
  • Indigenous Sami Religion (source criticism, religious change and continuity, rites de passage, concepts of person, bear rituals)
  • Sami linguistics (South Sami, Lule Sami, North Sami; language variation, personal names and place names, history of the Sami language)
  • Religions in the Circumpolar Area (concepts of person, comparison as method)
  • Jewish and Islamic Philosophies of Religion in 12th century Andalusia
  • Classical Indian Philosophy of Language (Pāṇini)
  • Religion and Aesthetics

Håkan Rydving (b. 1953) is a Swedish linguist and historian of religions, educated at Uppsala University. Since 1995 he has been Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Bergen. As a dedicated academic teacher he prioritizes supervision and finds it important as a professor to give courses for students on advanced as well as on beginners’ level.

In his research he in particular focuses on epistemological issues like problems of conceptualisation in addition to themes like variation and change, source criticism, and the practicability of different approaches as research tools. He emphasises the necessity of a good knowledge of relevant languages for any serious study of cultures and religions.

His main research interests lie in northern indigenous cultures, and especially in Sami linguistics and in the history of Sami religious traditions, but at present he has also taken up his old interests in Islamic and Jewish philosophies and in the Sanskrit grammar of Pāṇini. Rydving has been a visiting professor and lectured at universities and research institutes in Czechia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and the U.K., in addition to in the Nordic countries, where he is also a fellow of several academies of arts and sciences. 

Selected publications
  • Rydving, Håkan. 2004. The End of Drum-Time: Religious Change among the Lule Saami, 1670s–1740s (3rd ed.). 232 pages. ISBN: 91-554-3580-7.
  • Rydving, Håkan. 2013. Words and Varieties: Lexical Variation in Saami. 218 pages. ISBN: 978-952-5667-49-3.
  • Rydving, Håkan. 2012. Perspectivas del norte: cinco textos sobre la lengua y la cultura de los samis. Editores: Roberto Martínez y Velebita Koričančić (Serie Antropológica 21). Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 132 pages. ISBN: 978-607-02-3151-3.
  • Rydving, Håkan. 2011. Le chamanisme aujourd’hui : constructions et déconstructions d’une illusion scientifique. Études Mongoles & Sibériennes, Centrasiatiques & Tibétaines. 42. 13 pages. doi: 10.4000/emscat.1815
  • Rydving, Håkan. 2010. Tracing Sami traditions : in search of the indigenous religion among the Western Sami during the 17th and 18th centuries. Novus Forlag. 168 pages. ISBN: 978-82-7099-543-1.

Spring terms

  • RELV105 The Older Religions of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Areas, Old Norse and Sami Religions (substitute course leader, 2022)
  • RELV210/310 Selected Themes in Religious Studies (course leader)
  • RELV241/341 Old Norse Religions (course leader)

Autumn terms

  • RELV210/310 Selected Themes in Religious Studies (course leader)
  • RELV208/308 Sami Religion (course leader)
  • RELV232/332 World Philosophies (next time: the autumn term of 2022) (course leader together with Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen)
  • RELV238/338 Religion in World Literatures (only the autumn terms of 2020 and 2022) (course leader)
  • KUVI103 Ethnic Relations and Conflicts (lecturer)

Words and Varieties: Lexical Variation in Saami (Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 269), Helsinki 2013: Finno-Ugrian Society. 218 pp. 

Perspectivas del norte: cinco textos sobre la lengua y la cultura de los samis (Antropológica 21), eds. R. Martínez & V. Koričančić, México D.F. 2012: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Tracing Sami Traditions: In Search of the Indigenous Religion among the Western Sami during the 17th and 18th Centuries (Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning, Serie B, Skrifter 135), Oslo 2010: Novus forlag.

Samisk religionshistoria: några källkritiska problem (Religionshistoriska forskningsrapporter från Uppsala 4), Stockholm 1995: Almqvist & Wiksell International. 

The End of Drum-Time: Religious Change among the Lule Saami, 1670s–1740s (Historia Religionum 12), Stockholm 1993: Almqvist & Wiksell International. 

Sami Mythology (Encyclopedia of Uralic Mythologies)

The Concept of Shamanism: A History

The Language of the Sami Bear Rituals

Creating Order out of Chaos: Maussian Lessons in Theory Design

Rethinking ‘the Boundaries of the Sacred’: Developing Anttonen’s Theoretical Perspective with the Help of an Analogy

Indigenous Religions of the Circumpolar Area (textbook to be published in Swedish)


Present Doctoral Candidate

Alexander Alberts, Religion and Economics (supervisor)


Doctoral Dissertations Supervised

Konsta Kaikkonen (University of Bergen), Contextualising Descriptions of Noaidevuohta: Saami Ritual Specialists in Texts Written until 1871, 2020 (supervisor)

Stefan Olsson (University of Bergen), Gísl: givande och tagande av gisslan som rituell handling i fredsprocesser under vikingatid och tidig medeltid [Gísl: Giving and Taking of Hostages as a Ritual Act in Peace Processes during the Viking Age and Early Middle Ages], 2016 (main supervisor)

Mona Farstad (University of Bergen), Chaste, Chosen, and Purified: An Analysis of the Qur’ānic Narratives about Maryam, 2012 (main supervisor).

Rolf Christoffersson (Uppsala University), Med tre röster och tusende bilder: om den samiska trumman [‘With Three Voices and Thousands of Pictures: The Sami Drum’], 2010 (main supervisor). Rolf (1935–2021) passed away on 7 November, 2021. Beside his professional life with alcoholic care, he studied the History of Religions at Uppsala university. After his retirement, he continued his studies, specialized in the Sami drums, became the main expert on these artefacts, and taught Sami religion at Uppsala university. R.I.P.

Olle Sundström (University of Umeå), ”Vildrenen är själv detsamma som en gud”: ”gudar” och ”andar” i sovjetiska etnografers beskrivningar av samojediska världsåskådningar [‘“The Wild Reindeer is Itself the Same as a God”: “Gods”, and “Spirits” in Soviet Ethnographers’ Descriptions of Samoyedic World Views’], 2009 (supervisor).

Gerd Marie Ådna (University of Bergen), “O, Son of the Two Sacrifices”: Muḥammad and the Formation of Sacrifice in Early Islam, 2007 (supervisor with Prof. E. Thomassen)

Torsten Hylen (Uppsala University), Ḥusayn, the Mediator: A Structural Analysis of the Karbalā’ Drama according to Abū Ja‘far Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d. 923), 2007 (assistant supervisor).

Jelena Porsanger (University of Tromsø), “Bassejoga čáhci”: gáldut nuortasámiid eamioskkoldaga birra álgoálbmotmetodologiijaid olis [‘“The Water of the Sacred River”: The Sources of the Indigenous Religion of the Eastern Sami within the Frame of Indigenous Methodologies’], 2006 (supervisor). 

Roar Fotland (University of Bergen), Ancestor Christology in Context: Theological Perspectives of Kwame Bediako, 2005 (supervisor). 

Bjørn Ola Tafjord (University of Bergen), Ritualiserte forståingar: bribriar og bahá’i-trua [‘Ritualised Understandings: Bribris and the Bahá'í Faith’], 2004 (supervisor).

Ulrika Mårtensson (Uppsala University), The True New Testament: Sealing the Heart’s Covenant in al-Tabarî’s Ta’rîkh al-Rusul wa’l-Mulûk, 2001 (external supervisor). 

Mette Ramstad (University of Bergen), Conversion in the Pacific: Eastern Polynesian Latter-Day Saints’ Conversion Accounts and their Development of a LDS Identity, 2001 (main supervisor). 

George Charles (Kanaqlak) (University of California, Santa Barbara), Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being in Contemporary Yup’ik Thought, 2000 (external supervisor). Kanaqlak (1941–2020) passed away on 8 September, 2020. Before his retirement, he had been both the Center Director of the National Resource Center for American Indian, Alaska Native & Native Hawaiian Elders, University of Alaska, Anchorage, as well as a Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Studies at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. R.I.P.


Earlier Master’s Theses Supervised, History of Religions, University of Bergen, 1995–

Tomas M. Mittet, Jesus Kristus på samlebandet […]. En kvalitativ studie av funksjonen til den masseproduserte og standardiserte kirkekunsten til Jesu Kristi Kirke av De Siste Dagers Hellige på Fantoft, 2020 (supervisor).

Victoria Dahl, Messianske jøder i Israel i et identitetsperspektiv: en kvalitativ analyse ved hjelp av identitetsprosessteori, 2020 (supervisor)

Helle Braae, Eleoúsa-motivet i den ortodokse kirke, 2018 (supervisor).

Åsfrid Persson, Religiøst lederskap og autoritet i en kjønnet diskurs: forståelse av kvinnelig religiøs autoritet bland muslimer i Oslo, 2018 (supervisor).

Camilla Fjeldstad, The Many Faces of Shinto, 2016 (supervisor).

Petter Johnstad, Entheogenic Spirituality: Conversations with Psychonauts, 2016 (supervisor).

Maren Bjotveit, Midtøsten som region og maktkampen mellom Saudi-Arabia og Iran: en studie av stortingspolitikeres oppfatninger, 2015 (supervisor). 

Daniel Fitjar, Balancing the World: Contemporary Maya ajq’ijab in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2013 (main supervisor).         

Christina Elmar, Introduksjonsprogrammet fra et muslimsk deltagerperspektiv, 2012 (supervisor).           

Vegard Kvernenes, Den notidige feiringa av av mawlid an-nabi i Manchester og London, 2012 (main supervisor).          

Eyvind Bøe, Når det er farlig å fortelle: identitet blant armenere i Jerusalem, 2010 (supervisor).           

Elisabeth V. Moe, Sáráhkká og Jomfru Maria, 2009 (supervisor).           

Kristian Kvalvåg, De Siste Dagers Hellige, Mitt Romney, og Den amerikanske religion, 2009 (supervisor with Prof. D.Ø. Endsjø).           

Bjørn Hagen, Orishatro i en ny verden: santería i USA, 2007 (supervisor).

Annette Christine Svae, Oppviglerbarna aluxo’ob: beskyttervinder for mais og tilgrodde pyramider i yukatekmayaenes bønner og muntlige fortellinger, 2006 (supervisor).           

Erik Tønnesen, Between Prayer and Healing: Concepts of AIDS in a South African Community, 2006 (supervisor).          

Runar Hovland, Minnebasert konsekvensteori: en teoretisk modell applisert på politisk engasjement hos konservative kristne i Norge, 2005 (supervisor).          

Arnt Vidar Klungland, “Vi peker – landet preker”: Internasjonale kristne ambassade i Jerusalem, norsk avdeling: IKAJ som en norsk religio-politisk bevegelse, 2005 (supervisor).

Anne Brit Lauvsnes, Re-Defining the Self: A Life Story Analysis of Women Living on Anti-Retroviral Treatment, 2005 (supervisor).           

Torunn Elisabeth Bjørnsvik, Hvilken rolle spiller Norsk Luthersk Misjonssamband i den kulturelle globaliseringsprosessen i Tanzania? En studie av utviklingshjelpens kulturelle og religiøse påvirkningskraft, 2005 (supervisor).           

Hans Geir Aasmundsen, Religion og globalisering: pentekostale og katolikker i Argentina, 2003 (supervisor).           

Ane Fidjestøl, Prinsen valgte det himmelske riket: en studie av mytekomplekset rundt slaget ved Kosovo/a i 1389, 2002 (supervisor).

Anne M. Selland, Betraying the Nation: Reactions and Background to the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, 2002 (supervisor).            

Gry Aksnes, “God is Nigerian”: The Role of Religion in the Process Towards Democracy and in the Discussion about Nigeria’s Future as One Nation, 2001 (supervisor).           

Jorun Gjelsvik, Influence of Islamic Culture on Scandinavian Management in Malaysia: A Glance at Multinational Management and Islamic Values, 2001 (supervisor).           

Solveig Kavli, Ashé-Iyá: ein studie av afrocubanske artistar sitt forhold til santería og musikk, 2000 (supervisor).            

Tore Omdahl, Politisk engasjement hos pinsebevegelsene i Nicaragua, 1999 (supervisor).

Lina Snoek, Tro og sosial forpliktelse: en retning innen den cubanske pinsebevegelsen, 1999 (supervisor).            

Kjell Arne Kallevik, Christian Coalition som religio-politisk organisasjon, 1998 (supervisor).

Marie Steine von der Lippe, Pentekostale bevegelser i Latin-Amerika: en diskusjon av tre forklaringsmodeller, 1998 (main supervisor).          

Susanne Olsson, Religiopolitisk islam i mötet med det moderna: en analys av Hassan Hanafis sociopolitiska tolkning av islam, 1998 (supervisor).

Dominique H. M. Dau-Vu, Den katolske kirken i Vietnam: en aktør i politiske og sosiale sammenheng, 1997 (supervisor).           

Tone Lund-Olsen, Religion og globalisering: konsekvensar i Malaysia, 1997 (supervisor).


In addition supervision of:

Bachelor Theses (C-uppsatser) and Master’s Theses (D-uppsatser), Finno-Ugric Languages, Uppsala University, 1987–94

Bachelor Theses (C-uppsatser) and Master’s Theses (D-uppsatser), History of Religions, Uppsala University, 1977–89