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Accepted Contribution:

Dig Where You Stand (Gräv där du står): Staying with Collapsing Grounds in the Mining-Induced Displacement and Resettlement of Kiruna, Sweden  
Elisa Maria López (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

Contribution short abstract:

This roundtable contribution will discuss methodological reflections on, and empirical findings from, a decade of "staying with" a field site defined by collapsing ground: irreversible mine subsidence and mining-induced displacement, resettlement, and urban demolition in Kiruna, Sweden.

Contribution long abstract:

The object I will frame my discussion around is an 11 x 20 cm plastic bag containing magentite iron ore pellets, labeled "LKAB Visitor Centre 20th Anniversary 2018". It was collected at LKAB Kiruna – the world's largest underground iron mine – operated by the Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB. Each day, 15 trains of 68 wagons loaded with these pellets depart from LKAB Kiruna, one of two mines in the Swedish Ore Fields that produce 80 percent of the iron in the E.U. The mine is also the largest employer in Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city. Since 2004, Kiruna has faced the ongoing displacement and resettlement of six thousand residents due to irreversible earth deformations caused by LKAB's mining.

This bag will frame my discussion of what un/re/grounding looks like for both Kiruna residents and myself as an anthropologist studying this process for the last twelve years: what it has meant to stay with a place being destroyed by the industry it was established to support, and whom the community still relies on. I consider the ways my interlocutors and I engage Kiruna in the spirit of Sven Lindquist's 1978 call to "dig where you stand", exploring community histories of mining, labor, and the city to identify greater transformations in community and corporate relations. Finally, I will reflect on methodological challenges, insights, and lessons drawn from doing anthropology of and on Kiruna's shifting grounds, particularly post-2015 when urban demolition and population resettlement entered a more active phase.

Roundtable RT178
Doing and undoing grounds: rethinking the groundings of anthropocene anthropology
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -