Karin Lillevold – our new PhD candidate

We are super happy to present Gardening the Globe’s new PhD candidate, Karin Lillevold! Karin has a master’s degree in social anthropology from the University of Bergen from 2014 where she wrote about visions of nature and national identity in Iceland. Here is Karin’s own presentation of her PhD project with the preliminary title “REWILDING and the social construction of nature in times of the Anthropocene”: 

This project aims to explore how nature is socially constructed through practices of protection, restoration and historical narration. I want to do so by looking at the concept of “rewilding” with the national park Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella as a case study. This area has been under protection since the early 20th century and is interesting for several reasons: It is of utmost symbolic value to the nation of Norway and was used in the oath sworn when the Norwegian Constitution was established; it has been protected for having some of the most unique types of nature Norway has to offer; the ancient animal musk ox was (re-)introduced in the area in the 1930s – an animal that had not lived there since before the last ice age but is now seen as one of the key species in the park; and parts of the landscape has been used for military training and has now been sought restored back to an imagined “natural” state. All these elements are interesting aspects of the social production of this landscape and the shifting notions of what this landscape has been viewed as. They are also interesting examples of different techniques of “purifying” nature and protecting it from the “unpure”. A particular focus in my project will be to gain knowledge of the different imaginaries and visions of ‘nature’ that has governed these practices, both historically and contemporarily, as processes being part of what has led to the Anthropocene.

In the project I will focus on two main cases: 1) The reversing of the military area in Hjerkinn back to its ‘natural’ state, and 2) The story of (re-) introducing musk oxes to the area in the 1930s. These cases give me the opportunity to explore practices of protection, restoration and the historical narrations therein. They can be viewed as somewhat paradoxical human productions of wilderness and will serve as important cases for the shifting notions of nature that I wish to explore with the project.

Musk ox. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Karin has also studied art history, and worked with cultural heritage at various museums. Before embarking on her PhD, she worked as a research assistant at the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation at UiB, and for the last three years, she worked as a senior adviser in data protection in research at NSD/Sikt – Norwegian Agency for Shared Services in Education and Research.

Welcome, Karin! We look forward to work with you in Gardening the Globe.