Anthropology and Environment Society
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
While the Anthropocene has presented anthropologists with new ways to theorize landscape, it is important to examine conflicting approaches to ‘the environment’ and the power dynamics surrounding discourses of climate change across different scales.
Based on fieldwork in the north of Sweden, I examine how local tensions with environmentalists and the state regarding landscape are reinforced through national discourses of climate change and sustainability. In this paper I focus specifically on the friction surrounding hydroelectric power in Arjeplog. Hydropower is used in nation-building by the Swedish state in the global conversation of climate change and renewable energy. Locally, dams are experienced as material interruptions in everyday experience of nature, threatening wildlife and causing extensive material damage. This reveals a larger friction against the south in a history of resource extraction, where the sparsely populated north is seen as a goldmine ravaged for the good of the urban elite. The new discourses of environmentalism are seen as a further interference from the outside. There is a strong sense of irony that the big cities control resources from the ‘greener’ north in the fight against Global Warming.
I show how discussions of climate change and environmentalism cross these common distinctions of scale, and argue that we must listen to different voices of the Anthropocene in experience of landscapes. In a country increasingly gripped by global discourses of sustainability, existing local frictions are exacerbated by national interests.