Publication details

From mining tool to tourist attraction : Cultural heritage as a materialised form of transformation in Svalbard society



Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Polar Record
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords Svalbard; Socio-material relations; Nature-based tourism; Cultural heritage; Transformation
Attached files
Description In the context of socio-economic transformation of Svalbard, from a place dominated by the coal mining industry to a nature-based tourism destination, the article focuses on how this transformation is co-created with material objects of coal mining remnants. These seemingly marginal, insignificant or even out-of-place remnants of coal mining activity (such as rusty barrels or collapsing infrastructure) have become, by law, a protected part of the Svalbard environment, a cultural heritage. Based on the relational (more-than-human) ethnography of guided tours, the analysis shows that this transformation is co-creating the characteristics of both the past of coal mining and the present notion of wilderness. It demonstrates the process not only as a transformation of interpretations, knowledge and values but also as a transformation of relations with non-human components of the environment. Rather contextual than linear shifts in a biography of the objects, together with the temporality of the objects and their porous character, play a significant role in the Svalbard’s transformation into a nature-based tourism destination.
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