Returning to Nature. Post-carbon Utopias in Svalbard, Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSocial Analysis: The International Journal of Anthropology. 2022, 66 (2), 1-22. 10.3167/sa.2022.660201
While industrial closures in past decades were legitimized through an emphasis on economic motives, current closures are often framed within an emphasis on ‘green transition’, that is, through prefigurative discourses about post-carbon futures. This article discusses how the prefigurative transition framework reshapes the industrialization narrative, seeking to bridge the anthropology of energy and theories of performance. By paying attention to how ‘proclaimed transition’ is envisioned, narrated, and performed, the article explores the ways in which transition in Svalbard is spectacularly dramatized by the dismantling of the Svea coal mines, accompanied by the ‘returning to nature’ of the area. The article analyzes this ‘returning’ as a social drama of our anthropogenic times, demonstrating how landscape and nature are made key entities in performances of post-carbon utopia(s).