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Wilderness and Culture: Tourist Views and Experiences in the Laponian World Heritage Area
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences. (ETOUR)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8682-0442
2012 (English)In: Society & Natural Resources, ISSN 0894-1920, E-ISSN 1521-0723, Vol. 25, no 7, 621-632 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Laponian World Heritage Area in northern Sweden was established due to the natural beauty and the history of the indigenous Sami reindeer culture. Laponia, which is often referred to as the last wilderness of Europe, is also of importance for tourists. This article investigates how the landscape of Laponia is viewed and experienced. Tourists were questioned to explore how they think about the kind of landscape they visit, and, more specifically, they were asked about the meaning of the concept of wilderness. It is found that wilderness is used as a description of a defined area with pristine nature, wild animals, and few human influences. The tourists see no contradiction in the idea that a place can be pristine, used for Sami practice, and at the same time developed for tourism. This article also discusses the implications of the concept of wilderness for place and people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 25, no 7, 621-632 p.
Keyword [en]
perception, back-country hiker, Sami reindeer herding, nature conservation, Swedish mountains, tourism
Keyword [sv]
Turism, turismforsknig
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-8116DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2011.627911ISI: 000304475300001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84861508825Local ID: ETOUROAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-8116DiVA: diva2:133277
Available from: 2009-01-08 Created: 2009-01-08 Last updated: 2013-12-17Bibliographically 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 contemporary 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.

Abstract [sv]

I avhandlingen görs en analys av hur olika aktörer uppfattar, begreppsliggör och använder landskap. Det är en viktig del i att öka vår förståelse om rumsliga och tidsmässiga processer som påverkar landskapet. I norra Sverige inrättades Europas första nationalparker 1909. Trots kulturhistoria och dagens markanvändning beskrivs fjällen i norra Sverige ofta som vildmark. I denna sammanläggningsavhandling undersöks den turistiska användningen av skyddade områden och betydelsen av olika intressen i formandet av bilder av landskapet i Norrbottensfjällen. De huvudsakliga teman som undersöks är hur landskapets värden uttrycks, tolkas och förklaras av turister, liksom inverkan av olika idéer som ligger till grund för naturvården. Utifrån enkäter och intervjuer samt genom jämförelser med andra områden och över tiden, analyseras turisternas karaktäristika, deras beteenden och motiv till besök samt deras uppfattningar om landskapet.

 

Resultaten visar bland annat att turister besöker fjällen för att uppleva natur och vildmark samt för mental avkoppling. Turister uppfattar landskapet i norra Sverige som vildmark samtidigt som de uppskattar turistanläggningar med service, den samiska kulturen och renskötseln. Fjällens attraktion består av en kombination av service och orört landskapet. Resultaten visar att synen på fjällen som vildmark och naturlandskap i stort inte förändrats under det senaste århundradet. I denna avhandling problematiseras och ifrågasätts begreppet vildmark eftersom det skapar vissa bilder och värderingar om hur vi uppfattar och hanterar landskap.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: , 2009. 52 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen, 140
Keyword
Turism, turismforskning
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-10584 (URN)ETOUR (Local ID)ETOUR (Archive number)ETOUR (OAI)
Public defence
2009-10-02, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defence, the following paper had an other title: Changes in Visitor Demand: Interyear Comparisons of Swedish Hikers' Characteristics, Preferences and Experiences

Available from: 2009-12-09 Created: 2009-12-08 Last updated: 2014-09-10Bibliographically approved

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