Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Field Notes: Week 3 at KTH by Evan London and Kajsa Lundgren

This article and the images originally appeared on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic blog. 

There you can read about the Arctic course taking place in the summer of 2016! The participating students from KTH Royal Institute of Technology together with the students of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are writing about their experiences throughout the course.

By Evan London and Kasja Lundgreen
Hi, Kajsa and Evan here!

Time has flown by fast, the third week at KTH has now passed and we are leaving for Kiruna and new adventures tomorrow. This week has been quite busy with lectures together with Dag where the focus has been on the Swedish north, colonization, and heritage in Arctic politics, amongst other things.

It’s been interesting to learn how the Swedish North played a crucial role when Sweden was about to re-define itself during the 19th century (after the Great Power era). The North was of great importance in many aspects; resources, science, and power production. Due to the industrial revolution, which reached Sweden around 1870, there was a huge increase in the demand of steel. This also contributed to the northward expansion and colonization.

During the industrial revolution people didn’t care much about environmental protection, not that they didn’t care about their surrounding nature, but more of a common understanding that no matter how humanity changed the environments, nature would always win in the end. One might call it “the unbeatable power of Mother Nature”.

In the late 17th century there was a shift in this way of thinking and the first law for bird protection was imposed in the year of 1888 in Germany. In the states national parks were established and this idea was then brought to Sweden by Adolf Erik Nordeskiöld who argued that Sweden also should establish national parks. Laponia was at the same time acknowledged as a World Heritage. This lead us into the definition of heritage and how historical narratives have been used to highlight the importance of certain individuals in order to make claims and “prove” historical connections between nations and locations of interest. An example discussed in class in South Georgia where Great Britain and Argentina are using history to tell their own story of how they are connected to the island.

As the week drew to a close, we presented in our essay groups about the status of our research. Everyone had great presentations with a lot of good questions, a really good position for us to be in before heading up to the Arctic.

Friday was Midsummer, and the american students went south to the celebration in Nynäshamn. It was a great representation of an authentic traditional midsummer complete with a maypole and folk dancing. There was no better way to end the week before we head up to the Arctic on Sunday.


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