Migrant muskoxen and the naturalization of national identity in Scandinavia

In The Historical Animal, ed. S. Nance (Syracuse University Press, 2015), 184-201.

This chapter takes as its departure point studies of human migration, which have received a lot of attention in the past decade. Scholars have been interested in understanding the push/pull forces behind human migrations, whether they are willing or forced, and how the recipient communities have accepted (or not) the immigrants. The concept of “environmental migration” has even been used to describe human migration due to environmental change or stress events like hurricanes or earthquakes. But these studies have always limited themselves to the human condition. Animal migration, on the other hand, has been a biological studies inquiry concerned with population dynamics and predictive models of migration numbers and paths. In this piece, I broaden the approach and ask how thinking in terms of human migration studies might illuminate what happens to the muskoxen that moved from East Greenland to Norway and Sweden in the twentieth century.

See a preview of this article by watching my lecture “Naturalised National Identities. Migrant Muskox in Northern Nature” given at the Rachel Carson Center Lunchtime Colloquium series, Munich, Germany, 2013. Video online

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