Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kiruna, 30th of June

This series of posts shares field notes from the study abroad course "Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic." The course begins at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and then students from the University of Illinois and KTH travel north to conduct research in the Arctic. This blog was originally posted on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic webpage.

by Daniel Klen and Jessica Sellin

Today was our first full day back from the Tarfala Research Station! It was sad to leave its majestic landscape and all the hiking it provided, but we’re excited to move onto a new landscape and the adventures it holds.


In the morning, we visited the Hjalmar Lundbohms museum. The museum was Hjalmar Lundbohm's house, the founder of LKAB, and shows the history of the mining industry in Kiruna. The pictures in the museum depicted the miners and their families that lived and worked in the Kiruna area during the early 1900s. We were able to get an idea of life in Kiruna for early miners and their families from the perspective of the miners and settlers of the area. The museum also focused on Lundbohm himself and the national value of Kiruna through pictures, where the royalty inaugurated railway stations, schools, and other significant buildings or institutions. Borg Mesch, who was a legendary photographer in the area of Lappland, took all of the photos. He settled down in Kiruna when the town was first starting, and hence he photographed everything from the time of Kiruna’s birth, i.e., the mining, buildings, railways, settlers, and Sami people. The museum also contained an exhibition that aimed to present the city move from different perspectives, independent from LKAB and the municipality. It covered reasons, background, difficulties, and opportunities through comprehensive time lines, illustrations, and maps.

In the afternoon, we visited the Sami cultural center in Kiruna, which showed the Sami history and culture from a Sami perspective. In comparison to the Sami exhibit at the Nordiska Museum, which portrayed the Sami culture from an outsider’s perspective, the Sami cultural center portrayed the Sami culture from a Sami-centered organization. In addition to traditional Sami tools and clothing, there were exhibits showing different facets of Sami life. There was also a story told in which you could sense the anger and frustration among the Sami people towards the settlers and the state of Sweden. The Sami cultural center gave us additional insight into what role the traditional tools and clothing showcased in the Nordisk Museum played in Sami culture.


After our museum visits, we drove to Gällivare and Dundret, where we will spend the rest of the course. Along the way, we stopped at Svappavaara to view a Swedish cultural site. In total, our day was spent engaging with many cultural heritage sites and the narratives they tell about Sweden and its people.

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