Enchanted Ecologies in Scandinavia

Allegedly secularized Scandinavians often accentuate moments of enchantment in nature-oriented practices. Walking along the beach might prompt sensations of infinity, freedom and the ultimate reality. Forests, protected habitats and vistas are praised as evoking 'something almost holy' and open up visions of and for a 'reconnection to nature' in different versions. Moreover, in the discourse of nature-oriented urban movements such as slow food and tree activism, life 'close to nature' is described as having qualities associated with notions of the sacred.

The experiences of enchantment related to 'nature' we have come across in our previous research in some cases occur as seemingly insular subtle feelings of wonder, and in some cases as a disruptive force that prompts new environmentally oriented political engagements. The aims and purposes of Enchanted Ecologies in Scandinavia are, first; to offer new ethnographic accounts on the cultivation of enchantment in nature-oriented experiences among self-declared secular people in Scandinavia, and secondly, to develop new ways of theorizing enchantment and analyse how enchanted moments in different ways may relate to ethical and political concerns.

Project design

Methodologically, we aim at developing a collective research method of ethnographic transects by combining methods of biologists and ecologists with anthropological fieldwork strategies. Each subproject outlines one or more transects by which actors and places are systematically investigated.

 The sub-projects will be carried out in Denmark, Sweden and Norway and are designed in order to operationalize the central concepts of 'enchantment' and 'emerging ecologies' in partly overlapping settings across the spheres of leisure, agricultural production and the scientific investigation of habitats. All participants contribute to and draw on the collective field material.