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Wilderness and culture in the Laponian World Heritage Area: Tourist views and experiences
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

UNESCO has designated several national parks in northern Sweden as a World Heritage Area based on the unique natural beauty and the long history of the Sami culture and the practices of reindeer herding. This area is also an important attraction for tourists. The Laponian World Heritage Area is often referred to as the last wilderness of Europe. The aim of the paper is to investigate how the landscape of the Laponian WHA is viewed and experienced and to discuss implications of the concept of wilderness. Back-country hikers were questioned and it is explored how they think about what kind of landscape they visit and how they think about wilderness and Sami culture and practices. The results show that hikers perceive Laponia as a wilderness area. In general, they use the term wilderness as a description of a defined area with pristine nature, wild animals, and few or no human influences and not a cultural landscape. This paper argues that the concept of wilderness is in need of a critical examination, and the implications of adopting the concept are explored further in this paper.

Keyword [en]
perception, back-country hiker, Sami reindeer herding, nature conservation, Swedish mountains
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-28952OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-28952DiVA: diva2:228142
Available from: 2009-07-24 Created: 2009-07-24 Last updated: 2010-01-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Protected Attractions: Tourism and Wilderness in the Swedish Mountain Region
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Protected Attractions: Tourism and Wilderness in the Swedish Mountain Region
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Europe's first national parks were established in northern Sweden in 1909 and this region has thus functioned as a protected and aesthetic pleasure landscape for a century. In 1996, due to the combination of spectacular natural environment and ancient Sami traditions the Laponian World Heritage Area was established here. In spite of local cultural history and contempo-rary land use practices, the Swedish northern mountains are often described as remnants of the pristine and as wilderness - defined as the opposite to culture - and for many, wilderness is an unproblematic category of nature. With a focus on touristic use of protected areas, this thesis examines the role of different interests, including power relations, in shaping dominant descriptions of landscapes. Investigated themes include how landscape values are expressed, interpreted and explained by visitors, as well as the influence of different ideas underlying nature conservation. Results show that tourists visit the mountains to experience nature, wilderness, and scenery, and to feel mental relaxation. The existence of marked hiking trails and facilities at tourist cabins are also of importance. The attractiveness of the mountains includes the combination of comfortable conditions and a perceived untouched landscape. Tourists perceive the area as wilderness and - at the same time - filled with tourist facilities and Sami culture such as reindeer herding activities. It is found that the perception of the mountains as a wild and scenic natural landscape has not changed much during the last century. In this thesis, the concept of wilderness is problematized and contested since it produces images and values that have unrecognized effects on how we perceive and manage landscapes, including their cultural attributes. This thesis applies a critical realism approach to conceptualize landscapes.

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography,Stockholm University, 2009. 52 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 140
Keyword
Landscape value and perception; nature conservation policy; tourist behavior; tourist attraction; infrastructure; visitor survey; nature-culture dichotomy; Laponian World Heritage Area; Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-28966 (URN)978-91-7155-906-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-10-02, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defence, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.Available from: 2009-09-10 Created: 2009-07-28 Last updated: 2009-07-30Bibliographically approved

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