Go to the forest! Exploring the ordering of Swedish Nature-Based Integration
Biodiversity conservation cannot be separated from wider societal debates. In highlighting the discursive linkages between Swedish nature and right-wing discourses, this paper strikes a cautionary note about the potential for biodiversity conservation to become embroiled in wider societal conflicts.
Article: Singleton, B. E. (2020) Go to the forest! Exploring the ordering of Swedish Nature-Based Integration. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. DOI: 10.1177/2514848620962420
Author: Ben E. Singleton
About the article
Nature-Based Integration (NBI) is increasingly prominent in Nordic countries, mooted as a solution to two perceived issues in contemporary society: the need to ‘integrate’ groups of newcomers into host societies and increased separation of modern lives from nature. This article interrogates how categories such as ‘newcomers’, ‘Swedes’ and ‘nature’ are enacted through NBI and the consequences of this particular enactment.
Results and methods
Based on fieldwork, this research project combines participant observations of NBI activities with information gleaned from interviews and examination of background documents.
Drawing on research on environmental racism and (in)justice, this article homes in on the norms implicit and explicit to the NBI activities observed. It then discusses the implications of this, highlighting (arguably unavoidable) coercive elements. Furthermore, the long history of outdoor lifestyle as a pillar of Swedish nationalism and the embracing of such activities by the Swedish far right highlight that nature may also become a site of conflict as much as conciliation. Finally, the article considers the types of environmental action arising from the NBI orderings and the likelihood of meaningful environmental change.
As an increasingly popular hoped-for solution to migration issues, it is important to interrogate the actual effect of NBI in practice. This study has highlighted that NBI link in to wider societal conflicts, in particular relating to the pressures migrants face. NBI advocate need to be aware of the potential of coercion and conflict within their activities.