Turbulent Climate Discourses in Northern Sweden
Keywords:climate change, discourse, northern sweden
I examine how tensions between locals, environmentalists, and State politicians in a small town in northern Sweden are reinforced through national discourses of climate change and sustainability. Turbulence emerges across different scales of responsibility and environmental engagement in Arjeplog as politicians are seen by local inhabitants to be engaging more with the global conversation than with the local experience of living in the north. Moreover, many people view the environmentalist discourses from the politicians in the south, whom they deem to be out of touch with rural life, as threatening to the local experience of nature. These discourses pose a threat to their reliance on petrol, essential for travel, and are experienced locally as a continuation of the south’s historical interference in the region. Based on thirteen months of field research, I argue that mistrust of the various messengers of climate change, including politicians and environmentalists, is a crucial part of the scepticism towards the climate change discourse and that we as researchers need to utilise the strengths of anthropology in examining the reception (or refusal) of climate change. The locals’ mistrust of environment discourses had implications for my positionality, as I was associated with these perceived ‘outsider’ sensibilities. While the anthropology of climate change often focusses on physical impacts and resilience, I argue that we need to pay due attention to the local turbulence surrounding the discourses of climate change, which exist alongside the physical phenomena.