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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Territorial narratives: Talking claims in open moments

Stiernström, Arvid; Arora-Jonsson, Seema


In the rural inland of northern Sweden, three mining projects are making the future of the land uncertain. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, we show how these potential mining interventions create ‘open moments’, turbulent events that destabilizes established claims to land. We analyse how actors such as reindeer herders, indigenous groups, local and national government and mining companies make claims to land, (i.e territorialising it) by drawing on discourses on environmental responsibility, sustainability, indigeneity or growth. By paying attention to language and knowledge production, we show how a multiplicity of actors narrate territory into being, allowing us to go beyond conventional notions of territory as produced ‘from above’ by the state or by counterterritorial movements ‘from below’. By ‘freezing time’ in the unfolding of the open moments we lend all these ‘territorial narratives’ equal space, in order to analyse the connection between actors and their relation to land. This allow us to show connections between what might otherwise be perceived as locked and antagonistic positions, but also how ongoing processes of territorialisation are influenced by and change peoples’ subject positions as the open moment unfolds on the ground.


Territory; Narratives; Mining; Open moments; Normative systems; Land rights

Published in

2022, Volume: 129, pages: 74-84