Negotiating Wilderness in a Cultural Landscape : Predators and Saami Reindeer Herding in the Laponian World Heritage Area
Abstract: The UNESCO appointment of the Laponian World Heritage Area in 1996 meant that Sweden accepted the assignment of protecting both the cultural and natural values of this area for all mankind and all generations to come. Located in northern Sweden, Laponia had previously been protected for its natural values only, but the 1996 appointment determined that the local Saami reindeer herding culture should also be preserved. Since the goals of preserving nature and culture in Laponia do not easily combine, negotiations between the concerned parties must be held over important matters. This thesis deals with the ways in which "nature" and the "environment" are negotiated within the environmental disources that concern Laponia. The discourses analysed include such disparate, and yet interconneted, themes as Laponian environmental constraints, management control, predator policies, sustainable development, the perception of wilderness and cultural landscapes and the role of reindeer-herding Saami in the management of nature. The discourses also reflect a number of broad topics including the preservation of biodiversity and the role of indigenous peoples in modern nature conservation policies. Local Saami reindeer herders often find themselves caught between the expectation placed upon them by the majority society to engage in environmentally friendly reindeer herding, and the existing requirement to engage in rational reindeer herding. Local Saami reindeer herders must therefore negotiate their claims between the polarised positions of being indigenous people engaging in a traditional activity based on immemorial rights, and of being modern food producers in need of high-tech equipment and with a wish to develop their reindeer herding business on their own terms.
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