Frida M O Jørgensen Title : Meanings of landscape and colonialism – Walking among seabirds in Arctic Norway
Frida M O Jørgensen
In this panel presentation I argue that one of the ways to create more responsible and natureculture-sensitive tourism, is to change the narratives of landscape that stems out of colonial history. Nature-based tourism often neglect the cultural values and Indigenous presence in nature areas, particularly when it is happening in a nature conservation area formed by Eurocentric ideas and colonial forms of governance. During the spring of 2018 I studied human movements in a nature reserve, specifically a bird island with over hundred thousand seabirds. Observation and interviews of visiting tourists were used to explore perspectives of nature disturbance, attitudes and norms towards seabirds. The birdcliff is situated at the north-easternmost point of Norway, a few minutes from the town Vardø by boat. The Varanger peninsula is a popular destination for birdwatchers from all over the world. The region also has rich cultural values with a long history as a meeting place for multiple ethnic groups. However, the area has, and still is, a centra for colonial forces and activities. Consequently, multiple meanings are assigned by different actors to the landscape. In order to find responsible ways of walking with the more-than-human, I argue that the stories of landscape needs be de-colonized and interpreted by community-trained nature guides to lift up hidden or lost stories, and to help tourists adapt their movements to the rhytm of the birdlife and sorroundings.