(Re)creating gender hierarchies within northern landscapes: a study of stories about nature and gender
This article examines how gender hierarchies are (re)created within the context of northern landscapes. We analyse data from fieldwork and interviews with middle-class female Russians having settled in a small town in northernmost Norway, most of them as marriage migrants. Inspired by the phenomenology of the body, feminist phenomenology and gender theory, the analysis shows how the participants talk about nature as ‘recreation’ and ‘poetry’, but also as a venue that is vital for (re)shaping their gendered identities. In particular, the Russian women talk about their strong, skilful outdoors Norwegian husbands as ‘experts’ in nature, and about themselves as ‘novices’. This ‘expert–novice’ relationship creates a hierarchical distinction between the Norwegian man and the Russian woman, but also attributes additional value to the equality-oriented, but in several cases neither highly educated nor highly paid, Norwegian husband. Through this ‘remasculinisation’ of their Norwegian partners, the Russian women create a complementary, but subordinate space for themselves. The analysis reveals that our participants situate themselves in contrast to the Norwegian equality ideal while creating a room of their own where they can form a separate and unique Russian femininity. This illustrates how constructions of gender are interwoven in translocal ‘minoritising’ and ‘majoritising’ processes.
Publisher's version, source: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2016.1239572.