From Coal to Tourism: Ethnography of Enacting Environment on Svalbard Archipelago

The project is anthropology of environment on Svalbard, and tourist industry. Through participant observation and semi-structured interviews it aims to understand how is the environment on Svalbard enacted, what kind of practices and narratives emerge, and what does it mean more generally about relations to the Arctic environment.

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Project type

  • field work
  • theoretical


  • social sciences

Project Keywords

  • human dimensions / attitudes,preferences,behavior / recreation
  • human dimensions / infrastructure / cultural features
  • human dimensions / attitudes,preferences,behavior / social behavior
  • human dimensions / social behavior / recreational activities/areas

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The central aim of this project is to understand the character of relational practices that constitute the experiences in Svalbard’s environment within the guided tours. Attentive to both the socio-economical context of developing tourist industry and the materiality of human-environment relations, this project aims to contribute to the ongoing discussions within the anthropology of the Arctic, tourism, and environment, as well as the non-human agency. Guided tours provide the starting point of the analysis focused on the character of the human – environment relations on Svalbard. The research will also relate to these discussions focusing on how the narratives and practices of relations are formed with and in the absence of indigenous presence. The current situation of socio-economic change offers a chance to see how Svalbard’s environment is enacted in its present forming. It allows us to see negotiations, arguments, and a variety of practices and explanations that surrounds this enactment. What kind of practices, relations, and narratives emerge in this enactment? And what can this experience tell us about our relations to the (Arctic) environment? The ethnographical approach enables to use participant observation and informal and formal semi-structured interviews as well as co-laborative practices, in order to “collect” data for this project.

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