Symbolic and embodied involvements in a landscape. A ski ethnography of Käsivarsi, Finnish Lapland
AuthorGrøn, Tiia Helena
This thesis is about a wilderness-area in Finnish Lapland, people that dwell there and how they perceive the place. The idea of ‘wilderness’ in the socio-cultural context of this research does not exclude human-involvement and one might get surprised by how much social life that includes. The area is used by many tourists and some locals for recreation. At the same time the Saami have their reindeer’s pastures in the area. I did my fieldwork in the middle of the wilderness-area by one of the small huts that provide shelter for the hikers. Through participant observation and film I followed the life of this place with the focus on the group of skiers. The huts are important meeting-places as the skiers create a symbolic community among them. In the hut, people can share experiences, stories and advices with each other. The topics of discussion concern almost exclusively Lapland and hiking. In these social situations, images about the place are produced and reproduced. However, to be able to participate in these conversations, one must roam the mountains and get to know it by feet and by heart. In the movement along the journey, following the paths, perception occurs. I discuss how engaging in the landscape through activity creates belonging and how this makes people perceive the place. The wilderness-area of Käsivarsi is an important place for many and the same people return there year after year. Both the embodied and the symbolic aspects of the being in this environment are significant in the constitution of the place.Film synopsis: On a roadless journey, through the barren lands in Finnish Lapland the traveler can find shelter and companion to whom to share their story. The film is situated by a small wilderness hut and its surrounding landscape. Trough meetings with people that roam the area in different ways we learn about the character of the place ascribed by the people who dwell in it. The film is located in Enontekiö, which is part of Sápmi. The wilderness affords different things to the different groups that use it, and sometimes their wishes might be contradictory. The filmmaker stayed by the wilderness hut for one month as people were passing by, coming and going, moving on different means. Is this wilderness as empty and isolated as it might seem and why do people find this place so special?
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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