Enchanted Ecologies in Scandinavia
Allegedly secularized Scandinavians often accentuate moments of enchantment in nature-oriented practices. Walking along the beach might prompt sensations of infinity, freedom and the ultimate reality.
Forests, protected habitats and vistas are praised as evoking 'something almost holy' and open up visions of and for a 'reconnection to nature' in different versions. Moreover, in the discourse of nature-oriented urban movements such as slow food and tree activism, life 'close to nature' is described as having qualities associated with notions of the sacred.
The experiences of enchantment related to 'nature' we have come across in our previous research in some cases occur as seemingly insular subtle feelings of wonder, and in some cases as a disruptive force that prompts new environmentally oriented political engagements. The aims and purposes of Enchanted Ecologies in Scandinavia are, first; to offer new ethnographic accounts on the cultivation of enchantment in nature-oriented experiences among self-declared secular people in Scandinavia, and secondly, to develop new ways of theorizing enchantment and analyse how enchanted moments in different ways may relate to ethical and political concerns.
Methodologically, we aim at developing a collective research method of ethnographic transects by combining methods of biologists and ecologists with anthropological fieldwork strategies. Each subproject outlines one or more transects by which actors and places are systematically investigated.
The sub-projects will be carried out in Denmark, Sweden and Norway and are designed in order to operationalize the central concepts of 'enchantment' and 'emerging ecologies' in partly overlapping settings across the spheres of leisure, agricultural production and the scientific investigation of habitats. All participants contribute to and draw on the collective field material.
Enchanted Ecologies in Scandinavia is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. It will be based on field work in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and will offer new ethnographic accounts on the cultivation of enchantment in nature-oriented experiences. The five subprojects are designed in order to operationalize the central concepts of 'enchantment' and 'emerging ecologies' in partly overlapping settings across the spheres of leisure, agricultural production and the scientific investigation of habitats.
Sylvan Silence, Stockholm
Based on the notion that forests have recreational and health-promoting qualities, focused transects (incl. walk-along, ethnographic conversations and focus groups) will be conducted along the trails with participants, urban planners, and guides. Based on pilot interviews the expectation is that moments of enchantment in the forest park resonates closely with existential and health concerns, but also with consumption guilt and broader environmental concerns about biodiversity and conservation policies. Analytically, special attention is given to the ways in which practices of silence resonate with post-Christian cosmology of secular Swedish culture.
Contact: David Thurfjell
Valued Vistas, Copenhagen
A transect will be conducted from BIG house (8tallet), through protected areas of the Amager. Through ethnographic conversations and participatory techniques concerning the everyday 'doing of vistas' and the cultivation of the 'love of the commons' residents, architects, visitors, ecology experts and politicians are invited to explore how the small wonders of the commons are valued and contested in an urban space considered to harbour the most important cultural, economic and natural values.
Contact: Cecilie Rubow
Cultivating Slowness, Vegetal Life in Aurland
Inspired by an extended field of 'green' food studies and ethno-botanical methods, the fieldwork will take place at SJH investigating the cultivation of plants and ecological sensibility in the agricultural practices at the school. Local product developers, local customers and visitors connected to SAKTE will be sought out on a transect from Aurland towards Bergen.
Contact: Sofie Isager Ahl
Ecological Pedagogies and Matters of Care
This project explores the ethically and politically charged lives of a community of vociferous biodiversity-championing biologists in Aarhus, Denmark. It traces how ecological thought travel and mutate as such biologists-cum-eco-activists move from the university setting through sites of concerted nature-oriented gestures and engagements to the intricacies and conundrums of everyday life.
From this empirical point of departure, the project investigates the ways in which “ecological sensibilities” (Bennett 2001), 'attachment/detachment' (Candea et al. 2015), 'respons-abilities' (Haraway 2015), and 'care' (de la Bellacasa 2017) are configured and cultivated through and sometimes despite of the scientific practices of the so-called science of life.
Contact: Matti Weisdorf
Enchantment of Trees and Concerted Action
This project will move along the ethnographic transects established in the subprojects and zooms in on everyday interaction with trees and how experiences of enchantment are translated into a sense of ethico-political responsibility for nature and concerted action. Participant observation and ethnographic interviews about public controversies over trees will be conducted in order to understand how political action flow from experiences of affection and interconnectedness.
Contact: Stine Krøijer
Mickey Gjerris and Cecilie Rubow (editing)
Naturens sprog - Historier fra virkeligheden om fortryllelse
Granskogsfolk - Hur naturen blev svenskarnas religion
David Thurfjell, Cecilie Rubow, Atko Remmel, Henrik Ohlsson
The Relocation of Transcendence - Using Schutz to Conceptualize the Nature Experiences of Secular People