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Two Ore Mountains: Feminist Ecologies of Spatial Practices

Project leader:
Karin Reisinger (IKL)

Project team:
Elke Krasny (co-applicant)

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | Hertha Firnberg (T1157)

FWF | Hertha-Firnberg Fellow
Karin Reisinger, Institute for Education in the Arts
Duration: 1.3.2020 – 29.2.2024

An increasing number of zones on the earth are being subjected to extractive and destructive changes, to the point that they will barely be inhabitable for some time. Mining is an emerging topic in research, but scarcely researched using feminist and inclusive methods, which the new field of feminist ecologies provides. The case studies of the project are two mountains of ore extraction, one in North Sweden, Malmberget, and one in Austria, Erzberg, where the intense extraction of the largest ore deposits of Central and Northern European countries determines the life of diverse actors. The town of Malmberget is slowly disappearing, with the area of the former city center already having collapsed from a landslide in the 1970s and replaced with a 250m-deep “pit.” Erzberg, with the town Eisenerz at the foot of the mountain, is anticipating 40 more years of extraction.

Especially in the case of Malmberget, we can learn from a long history of a feminist political movement and a current indigenous movement. Focusing on intersectional feminist perspectives, the project asks: Who are the actors of mining? Since these environments are mostly represented by the narratives of male workers and pioneers, the perspectives of alternative actors must be added to show the connectedness of multiple actors and their spatial practices of extraction and repair. Participatory observation and mapping will unveil connectivities, alternatives, and often surprising practices to create a resilient theoretical framework for inclusive ecologies during and after exploitation. Through feminist strategies of making visible, bringing together, and anticipating and activating futures, this project will show spatial practices and how they perform constant reparative counter-practices amid extraction. An ethical, intersectional framework will revive the margins of how we know about environmental exploitation to deliver a complex, but profound, image of a polyphonic Anthropocene.