Teresa Komu

University of Oulu

Teresa Komu is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology, based at the University of Oulu. Her research examines the dynamics of coexistence between reindeer herding and the extractive industries in northern Fennoscandia. The objective of her research is to explore how cultural dreams of a good life effect the relationship of competing livelihoods in local communities.

The main research questions in her thesis are: How developments in other locations affect the local attitudes towards planned mining projects? Why would reindeer herding communities refuse to resist development projects they believe to be harmful to them? What kind of cultural understandings are attached to northern mining and how are local responses towards new mining projects reflecting them? Her main research method is stakeholder interviews among reindeer herders, mining company representatives, tourism entrepreneurs and municipal office-holders with a focus on the case of the planned Hannukainen mine in Kolari, Finland, but including in the analysis other herding communities and the Kaunisvaara mining project in the Torne River Valley area.

The preliminary outcomes of the ongoing thesis work is that local herding communities’ may refuse to resist planned mining projects as an attempt to balance the securing of the continuity of their livelihood with maintaining healthy outgroup social relations. Therefore, engaging in overt conflict is not always the preferred option for local communities facing competing land use. The reactions of the herding communities’ in her thesis were affected by the existence of differing local dreams of a good life, especially the utopian dream of upcoming prosperity attached to extractive industries. The recurring phenomenon of dream-like expectations attached to mining currently poorly acknowledged, even though it is a significant factor in creating local acceptance towards mining projects.