The project launches!

As the autumn makes its way to Finnish Lapland and the chilly breeze of the wind greets me from an open window, I’m feeling very excited to write the very first blog post of our project Envisioning Proximity Tourism with New Materialism, which has now officially begun!

All the way until August 2023 we, the ILA-group, will be working to explore possibilities of proximity tourism in the Arctic settings, with the help of feminist theories and methodological innovations. In this blog, we will be writing about what’s going on in the project, providing reflections of ongoing research, happenings, student courses, seminars, conferences and workshops – as well as handing over the “pen” to the members of our wonderful network, which reaches its branches both far and near!

During the times of global climate change and the challenges we are unavoidably facing in the era of the Anthropocene, our project could not be more timely: by the time of writing this blog post, a piece of news by Business Insider tells how Finland has been rated the number one country to travel to in 2019. Highlighting Finland’s food and sauna culture, expansive nature, and nice people, the news cheers Finland’s Everyman’s rights, that is “the right to move about, stay and temporarily camp on another’s land and utilise certain natural products there without the consent of the landowner” (Tuunanen, Tarasti & Rautiainen / Ministry of the Environment, 2015: 9). While it is wonderful that our country is being recognized and valued internationally as a tempting tourism destination – there certainly is much to experience in Finland! – we must yet be sentient to the impacts of growing tourism to our sensitive nature. This means we have to act towards visioning – and putting into practice – forms of tourism that both cares for and recognizes the mutuality of care between humans and other earthly creatures. What could future tourism based on care be like?

To work towards this aim, our empirical, methodological and theoretical work – the beautiful, messy complexity of it – focuses on living with the nature in the national park of Pyhä-Luosto in Finnish Lapland. The national park being located by the tourist centers of Pyhätunturi and Luosto, Pyhä-Luosto region represents a wonderful place to focus on our research project. This is not least because this Arctic region is already actively working towards sustainable tourism but also because it is the home of unique geological formations and is known of its pure air and abundant bed of deadwoods. As such, Pyhä-Luosto as a meaningful place provides us an opportunity to do research and create new tourism narratives together with rocks, deadwood, lichen and bilberries – Lappish creatures that, when we pay close attention, appear as vibrant sites of intensities, having stories to be told – and listened.

It’s time to start listening. Let the journey begin, welcome aboard!

Tarja works as a post-doctoral researcher in the project

tsalmela Yleinen

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