Mining the Boreal North
Resource extraction decisions are not simply about wilderness preservation or development
Environmental history cannot tell us whether mining in a particular place should happen—that is a social decision, not a scientific or historical decision. But historical perspectives can remind us that there is nothing natural or inevitable about resource development. Resources are contingent and they change over time. Calling something a resource pulls it out of its intricate social and ecological relationships and isolates it in our gaze. Yet those isolations are illusions. We still live in intimate relationships with larger landscapes, even if we think technology isolates us from ecological constraints. When minerals are dug from the ground, when trees are cut in the forest, when flood waters are diverted, when rivers are dammed, when animals are changed from fellow creatures to livestock resources, we set into motion subtle processes of toxic transformation that have legacies far into the future.
Urban rulers long envisioned the north as a remote hinterland best suited for resource extraction. Yet what environmental history can reveal are the ways that the north is intimately connected to sites of industrial activity by animal migrations, by atmospheric currents, by historic legacies. Mining conflicts in the north are not about preserving wilderness or developing it. Rather, they revolve around what kinds of relationships to natural communities will be supported—and who has the right to decide.
- Baer, Lars-Anders. 1996. Boreal forest dwellers: The Saami in Sweden. Unasylva 47(3). http://www.fao.org/docrep/w1033e/w1033e05.htm.
- Berg, Bård A. 1996. Government intervention into Sámi reindeer management in Norway: Has it prevented or provoked “tragedies of the commons?” 1. Acta Borealia 13 (2): 69–89. doi: 10.1080/08003839608580454.
- Crossley-Holland, Kevin. 1999. The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Hoffsten, P. O., T. Johnson, M. Uppman and E. Sjostrom. 2006. Undersokningas av biota, sediment och vattern I Ala Lomolo, Yli Lombolo, Kuollistusjarvi, Jukkasjarvi och Kallojarvi, Kiruna kommon. Report, Pelagia Miljokonsult AB. 21 pp.
- Johansson, N. 2006. Atlantprojekt: en studie av planerna för det största projekter I svensk vattenkraftshhistoria. Thesis. Luleå Technical University. Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences.
- Klein, David R., and Martha Shulski. 2009. Lichen recovery following heavy grazing by reindeer delayed by climate warming. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 38(1):11–16. doi: 10.1579/0044-7447-38.1.11.
- Paine, Robert. 1992. Social construction of the “tragedy of the commons” and Saami reindeer pastoralism. Acta Borealia 9(2):3–20. doi: 10.1080/08003839208580413.
- Paine, Robert. 1994. Herds of the Tundra: A Portrait of Saami Reindeer Pastoralism, illustrated edition. Washington, DC: Smithsonian.
- Riseth, Jan Åge. 2003. Modernization challenges and conflicting strategies: Reflections upon the co-management alternative. In Indigenous Peoples: Resource Management and Global Rights, ed. Jentoft, Svein, Henry Minde and Ragnar Nilsen. Eburon Uitgeverij B.V.
- Roturier, Samuel, and Marie Roué. 2009. Of forest, snow and lichen: Sámi reindeer herders’ knowledge of winter pastures in Northern Sweden. Forest Ecology and Management 258(9):1960–1967. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.07.045.
- Stone, Greg. 2012. Mines threaten reindeer herders. Special to Northern News Services, April 26. http://www.nnsl.com/northern-news-services/stories/papers/apr16_12deer.html.
- UN Petition. 2012. Submitted by Mattias Åhrén of the Saami Council, on behalf of the Girjas Sami village, November 20, to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. www.sametinget.se/49821.
- Vitebsky, Piers. 2006. The Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- The Samiskt Informationscentrum (which is maintained by the Sámi Parliament) includes an excellent website with historical records: http://www.eng.samer.se/servlet/GetDoc?meta_id=1004.
» Post Comment