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Title: Thinking like a river : an anthropology of water and its uses along the Kemi River, Northern Finland
Author: Krause, Franz
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 6605
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis explores in what ways Kemi River dwellers in the Finnish province of Lapland use and have used the waters of their home river, and how their skills and experiences are reflected in their conceptualisation of the riverine world. Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork, I portray river dwellers’ relations with the Kemi, focusing on practices and narratives and how the flow of water and other matter figures in them.  Having undergone radical transformation over the course of people’s lives, the river is tightly interwoven with personal biographies. An environmental history reveals how people and stream have mutually shaped each other for a long time and continue to do so today. I focus on three activities, fishing, transport, and hydroelectricity generation.  Fishing, formerly the major political-economic river use but economically marginal today, continues to provide a significant way of engaging with and coming to know the river. Boating has radically changed with damming, mechanisation and the displacement of travel and transport to the roads, and presently constitutes a way of performing one’s belonging to the Kemi, in tems of both “understanding” its waters and claiming them politically.  Similarly, timber transport has recently shifted from the river to the roads, though the memories of large-scale floating operations are still prominent in river dwellers’ stories and the riverine landscape.  Finally, hydroelectricity infrastructure widely transformed the river dwellers’ world and introduced a powerful technology negotiating water flows, electricity markets and inhabitants’ sensibilities. Scrutinising these practices and narratives reveals profoundly rhythmic patterns in the river dwellers’ activities, the river’s dynamics and the world around. Life on the river emerges as the ongoing articulation of these manifold rhythms, shaping and being shaped by their interaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Kemi River (Finland) ; Ethnology