I’ll be headed out on a research road trip in two days. I’ll be working on both of my main reintroduction cases: beaver and muskox. First stop will be the archive at Jamtli in Östersund. The first beaver reintroduction project was spearheaded by Eric Festin who was the director of the museum, so there should be lots of interesting documents about the beaver’s return. I’ll be there for 3 days. Then I’ll be driving to Funäsdalen where I will tour the Myskoxcentrum and see the Fjällmuseet. After that, I head to Norway where I will check out the presentation of muskox for tourists in Dombås (the gateway to Dovrefjell) and at Kongsvold Fjeldstue. I’ll even get to go on a muskox safari. Then I’ll drive through Trondheim, making a quick stop at the Vitenskapsmuseet, and finally back to the Östersund area where I’ll take the first beaver safari tour of the season at Camp Damman.
Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it. I can’t imagine how tired I’ll be on Monday the 24th when I return.
In many ways, the trip is about border crossing. Just as the animals I am studying have crossed over the border between Norway and Sweden, I’ll be moving between the two countries. I’m curious to see how the nations as entities and the political boundary that people have drawn affects the way these animals are thought about and presented. Are the Swedish and Norwegian muskox one and the same? Are they understood to be different? How long did the beavers from Norway retain their Norwegian identity once moved to Sweden? How do we project our ideas of nation and border onto animals that couldn’t care less about our lines?
These are just some of the questions I hope to grapple with next week. And I’m looking forward to sharing some of those insights here on this blog.