Not So Green Hydropower: Post-Dam Cultural Emplacement

Kalevi Veko. Snowchange Cooperative, 2014

Kalevi Veko. Snowchange Cooperative, 2014

Kokemäenjoki has been called the artery of SW boreal areas of Finland over centuries. A former Atlantic Salmon river, it was dammed over the span of 100 years. A new Snowchange article reviews the life work of fisherman Kalevi Veko and his community as they fought for their river and tried to maintain a traditional fishery.

A new paper out in Climate and Development captures Kalevi’s life work. Whilst modernity and associated natural resources extraction has altered, often permanently, natural systems, we explore a river valley that has been radically altered during industrialization. We investigate how community emplacement functions. It is an emerging spatial understanding of severed, preserved and reconnected belongings to a place (in this case, a river system. This case study concentrates on the Kokemäenjoki River in Finland. We argue that the lifework of our co-researcher, fisherman Kalevi Veko, provides evidence of the persistence of traditional knowledge and livelihoods.

regional map

Hydropower is a central element of displacement and represents spatial nodes of modernity. Weather change was observed by Veko early on. Yet hydropower was seen as a solution to produce climate-friendly energy in the river system, ignoring traditional knowledge.

Kalevi in 1953.

Kalevi in 1953.

Continued fish harvests are investigated to demonstrate a range of qualities and adaptations to the alterations. Secondly we explore Veko’s role in the restoration of asp population to the altered river. This constitutes an endemic act of emplacement. This rests on tensions between preserved fisheries and the impact of hydropower development. Traditional skills do not necessarily disappear during industrial modernization. Instead, in certain encouraging conditions, they can re-emerge and pave routes to endemic futures.

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