As well as acting as another motivating period of intense analysis and synthesis, I learned a great deal. Given my focus on Svalbard, it was really useful to get a picture of
Though it might have been a long way to go for a couple of days it provided a glimpse of life in northern Norway that means suddenly some of the accounts from those I have spoken with in Svalbard begin to make sense in a different way. Of particular relevance to my thinking and work were hearing about the mining history and operations of the town of Kirkenes from the Major Cecilie Hansen, a representative from Sydveranger Iron mine (Harald Martinsen) and a tour of that mine. The parallels with Svalbard in the timings, politics and operations of the mine are uncanny. Of course, it is always good to hear from fellow (more experienced) researchers dealing with Svalbard from a different focus point as well and giving me an excuse not to try and talk about EVERYTHING- thanks to Peder Roberts and Dag Avango for covering the fascinating industrial heritage angle on coal mining in Svalbard as well as in Northern Sweden.
Which brings me, aided by Brigt Dale, back to thinking along familiar lines about the value of landscapes, wilderness, which landscapes, peoples, species are worth protecting, which must be 'sacrificed'. If we 'save' the arctic, does this mean we trash Africa? Is it ultimately how we conceptualise nature and humanities place within (or outside) of 'it'? Of course, if we didn't insist on all this stuff.... Though hidden within worries about ore prices perhaps, one thing we didn't get around to talking about directly was the demand side of the arctic mining equation. All food for thought. The Barents Institute have a great summary of the whole event too.