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The Shepherds of Þjórsárver.: Traditional Use and Hydropower Development in the Commons of the Icelandic Highland.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores a damming dispute that has been going on for over four decades in Iceland, about whether a dam, Norðlingaölduveita, should be built in the central highland, near the glacier Hofsjökull and the wetland reserve Þjórsárver, or not.  The study focuses on the local resistance against the dam, led by a group of people in the farming community Gnúpverjahreppur, which has its highland grazing commons in the Þjórsárver area.  This group is supported by both national and international individuals and organisations for the preservation of Þjórsárver.  The Icelandic National Power Company has had the damming project on its agenda as a part of the total damming of the river Þjórsá, which runs from the glacier Hofsjökull to the Atlantic Ocean, mostly for electricity production to power aluminium plants in the southwest part of Iceland, near the capital, Reykjavík.  The local resistance has its roots in the traditional way of herding sheep, especially the custom of letting the community’s sheep graze in its highland commons during the summer and fetching them in the autumn in the fjallferð, or ‘mountain round-up’.  In the fjallferð, people from most of the farms participate, searching together in the vast highland nature for sheep, according to elaborate search patterns, where knowledge of the area, courage and cooperation are a key to success.  Through these annual round-ups, that have been practiced for hundreds of years, the people not only create and recreate close ties with each other, as a community with common goals, but also maintain an intimate and long-lasting relationship with the nature of their highland commons.  In its features, the people read and recall the history of their community, its successes and losses, past and future.  Seeing the commons as a vital part of their community, they are not willing to jeopardize the nature there.  Although this conflict lacks the indigenous dimension that is often found in such conflicts elsewhere, its rhetoric follows similar lines.  The study thus offers an interesting contribution to the research field of environmental resource and land use disputes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology , 2011. , 320 p.
Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology, ISSN 0348-5099
Keyword [en]
Land use disputes, local peoples, sheep herding, damming, commons, identity, traditions, nationalism, Þjórsárver wetland reserve.
National Category
Research subject
Cultural Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-147719ISBN: 978-91-554-8011-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-147719DiVA: diva2:400756
Public defence
2011-04-15, Ihresalen, Engelska Parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2011-03-24 Created: 2011-02-28 Last updated: 2015-02-03Bibliographically approved

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Ögmundardóttir, Helga
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