This blog will follow the research and other news connected to my project “The Return of Native Nordic Fauna” financed as a Young Researcher grant by the Swedish research council FORMAS, 2013-2016.
The purpose of this project is to investigate how certain animal species have been identified as belonging in the Nordic region and how that identification has shaped historical conservation measures, particularly decisions to reintroduce the species. Reintroduction projects attempt to reestablish a species in a place where it has become locally extinct. While biologists have attempted to standardize the definition of reintroduction, they have not necessarily questioned the fundamental issue of history at the heart of reintroduction: Why have people decided that a particular species should be in a place—that it is ‘native’ there—and thus worthy of return?
Through an environmental history approach, the project will expose the role of ‘nativeness’ in three species reintroduction efforts dating from the twentieth century to today in Sweden and Norway: the beaver, the muskox, and the wild boar. By opening up the box of reintroduction and exposing the motivations for them, this project will be an important humanities contribution to ongoing scientific work. The project will investigate how species that have become locally extinct and then reintroduced are framed as ‘native’, the ways that species intentionally reintroduced versus accidentally reintroduced are treated differently, and the roles a species’ history and interaction with humans play in making a particular species ‘Swedish’ or ‘Norwegian’ or ‘Nordic’.