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Doctoral thesis defence: Kjerstin Uhre


11 December, 2020, 09.00 – 12.00

Kjerstin Elisabeth Uhre will defend her PhD thesis “The Perforated Landscape – A study on contested prospects in Sápmi” at AHO on December 11th. The defense will be in English.

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Mineral prospecting perforate landscapes both physically and discursively. Bringing landscape theory in conversation with critical cartography this monograph emphasis the landscape dimension in interrelated research fields discussing indigenous livelihoods, land rights and environmental governance. Methodologically the thesis adapts a counter prospective approach with an interative movement back and forth between ethnography inspired field studies and multimodal discourse analysis. It combines mapping, sketching, photography, records from qualitative interviews, participation and participatory observation with map analysis, document analysis, and media analysis to investigate and illustrate complex discourses.

Pursuing the landscape dimensions of environmental conflicts, the empirical part of the study follows the Nussir copper mine prospect in West Finnmark from being an anticipated showcase in the Norwegian strategy for the mining industry, via drilling campaigns in reindeer calving grounds, to the environmental controversy of using Reppafjorden/ Riehpovuotna as a mining waste deposit. The author’s encounters with Sámi reindeer pastoralists in the everyday landscapes of the Fiettar reindeer grazing district, mining prospectors, environmentalists, coastal fishers and residents are described as a learning experience in the Sámi outfield – the meahcci.

The critical review of the findings brings together discussions on key topics such as the rhetoric of greenwashing and territorial governance, and the loss of pastures and autonomy in Sámi reindeer husbandry. It demonstrates the hegemony of the prospector politically and in the public discourse on landscape and how Sámi landscape relations have been overlooked in the landscape assessment undertaken by consultants. Further, it reveals how the definition of landscape of the European Landscape Convention has been modified and subverted in the landscape mapping of Norwegian environmental governance.

Perforated landscapes draw attention to their own futures. Counter prospecting outlines the potential to engage with landscapes that exhibit contested trajectories by proposing alternative prospects. Discussing the hegemony of mineral and energy prospecting politically and in the public discourse, the thesis calls for prospective responsibility in landscape architecture to counteract the exclusion of Indigenous peoples’ landscape relations in landscape management and design.

About the candidate: Kjerstin Elisabeth Uhre is an assistant professor in the Master Program of Landscape Architecture at UiT the Arctic University of Norway. She graduated from the Bergen School of Architecture in 1994 and has studied Philosophy at the University in Bergen. She is a partner in Dahl & Uhre architects in Tromsø/Romsa. The practice has been awarded for their cooperative works in the conjunction between architecture, urbanism and participatory planning. Arctic policies in Norway and Fennoscandia facilitating for extractive industries that perforates the landscape motivated her study on contested prospects and outfield practices.

Supervisor: Professor Andrew Morrison
Co-supervisor: Professor Halldis Valestrand from UiT, The Arctic University of Norway
Adjudication committee:

  • First opponent: Professor emeritus Michael R. Handley Jones, NTNU, Norway
  • Second opponent: Associate Dean, Katrina Simon, RMIT University, Australia
  • Third member and coordinator: Associate Professor Even Smith Wergeland, AHO, Norway