Releasing upper Lapland : Martin Heidegger and the question concerning nature
DisciplineKansainvälinen kehitystyö (maisteriohjelma)Master's Degree Programme in Development and International Cooperation
This study is a phenomenological-hermeneutical analysis of the Upper Lapland forest conflict. Reindeer husbandry, state forestry and nature-based tourism are the main sources of livelihood in Upper Lapland. Also large, state-owned wilderness areas have been reserved for nature conservation. Utilisation of the forests and wilderness areas for different purposes has lead to a situation where the livelihoods are forced to compete with each other and conflicts between the different interest groups have arisen during recent years. The theoretical background of the study is Martin Heidegger’s critique of technology and his idea of Releasement (Gelassenheit). He was concerned with technology, not as an applied science or instruments, but as the ontological relationship we have with our surroundings and how this is inevitably affected by the technological age we live in. This manifests for instance in the hegemonic interpretation of nature through the natural sciences. Technology dominates the western way of relating with nature: the ways of defining, understanding, using and talking about nature, leaving little room for other ways. Nature is revealed as flexible raw material, stripped from other meaning, as mere resources for different purposes: a place to go to, to extract materials from, to use and enjoy, while our actual life lies somewhere else, separated from nature. The case of Upper Lapland is analysed as an example of this change that has taken place. A specific focus in this study is on how reindeer herding still contains elements that resist the technological worldview. The hegemony of technology becomes apparent with the help of Albert Borgmann’s theory of the device paradigm and focal things and practices. The technological lifestyle in Upper Lapland is contrasted with examples of focal things and practices, which have a radically different ontological relationship with nature and can still be found in local ways of living. This study also argues that technology can be seen as a reason why a compromise between the different stakeholders is still lacking. The research concludes that the Upper Lapland forest conflict is a conflict of clashing conceptions and ways of living with nature. Only on the surface it is a conflict of interests or user-rights or a simple result of the overexploitation of limited natural resources. Moreover this study shows that those focal practices that make life meaningful for the people connected to them are threatened to extinction under the hegemony of technology. For this reason the conflict is so fundamental and comes up time and again. Once this is taken into account a possible compromise can begin to be built. ...
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