Negotiating nature relations and Norwegianness through dog-sledding
(UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
Paper short abstract:
The paper investigates the recent breakthrough of dog-sledding in Norway. How are differentiated friluftsliv identities promoted through dog-sledding? How do they relate to negotiations of nature relations and Norwegianness in times of global warming and a race for natural resources in the Arctic?
Paper long abstract:
The Norwegian friluftsliv (outdoor recreation) tradition is a complex cultural field, marked by antagonism. With roots back in time to amongst other the Norwegian nation building process, friluftsliv is considered a constitutive part of Norwegian national identity. Values at stake in friluftsliv as a “popular cultural” field concerns how Norwegians should relate in relevant and legitimate ways to the non-human, in terms of “natural landscapes” and “animals”. Trough Norwegians’ discursive and corporeal practicing of friluftsliv, continuous negotiations take place concerning value-laden problem fields encapsulated in dichotomies like human-animal and nature-culture. All the way, friluftsliv makes up a central stage for identify formations among Norwegians. During the last thirty years, long distance dog-sledding has entered this stage as a new winter friluftsliv practice. From being positioned on the margins of society – both literally and symbolically – thirty years ago, the popularity of dog mushers and sled dogs have increased considerably, particularly during the last decade. Even though the picture is ambiguous and potential critique is lingering below the surface, for example from animal protection organizations, dog-sledding has become popular. Based on fieldwork among sled-dogs and mushers in Norway, this paper investigates how the breakthrough of dog-sledding as a new friluftsliv practice can be understood. Questions pursued are what and how differentiated friluftsliv identities are promoted through dog-sledding and how they relate to negotiations of nature relations and Norwegianness in times of global warming and in the context of a global race for natural resources in Arctic territories.
Practicing the Arctic: home and heterotopia