Land-use conflicts between reindeer husbandry and mineral extraction in Finnmark, Norway: contested rationalities and the politics of belonging
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPolar Geography. 2016, 39 (1), 58-79. 10.1080/1088937X.2016.1156181
The article compares decision-making on two mining projects in Sámi reindeer pastures: the Nussir and Biedjovággi initiatives in northern Norway. Key actors are reindeer pastoralists, mining companies, local politicians and the state. Based on interviews, government documents, media debates and observations of meetings between the actors, the study examines the actors’ claim to land and rationalities used in political decision-making. The case comparison shows that the actor groups used similar reasoning for claiming land. The mining companies argued that mining responded to local, national and global objectives and win-win opportunities of coexistence. The pastoralists referred to their customary rights to pastures and mining as threats to their livelihoods. In the Nussir case, the politicians approved the project based on environmental assessments, public hearings and the wellbeing of society. Their assumption was that conflicting interests could be solved through dialogue. However, the decision-making process ignored the contested rationalities and power relations in land-use conflict. In the Biedjovággi case, local politicians rejected the initiative at an early stage. Here, the mining proposal initiated a debate about identity and ethics. In both cases, politics of belonging influenced the public recognition of the pastoralists’ claim to land.