This study focuses on investigating the de-industrialization process in a Russian coal-mining town at Svalbard - Barentsburg. We aim to analyse the formation of the new actor network and how are actors use (and produce) narratives relating to the mining past in their efforts to build futures. The study also investigates what values the legacies of Russian mining operations represent to these actors and why: to do so, we hold qualitative interviews with the major stakeholders and field observations.
This study makes use of the unique set of observations collected from the numerous field trips for the period from 2001-2016 in order to illustrate how the changes in the ideas (ideology) meaning of Barentsburg have resulted in the transformation of the built environment and also in the new uses of space controlled by Russian authorities here.
Our results confirm the strong legacies connected to the role of the Russian company Trust Arktikugol as the main provider for the newly established activities, such as tourism destination development, despite a decline in mining activities. Present-day tourism activities previously confined to a limited (easily controlled) segment of the town are now showing a tendency to be more spread out so that they can provide both individual and group visitors with better access to the services provided by the settlement to its visitors.
The uncertainties connected to Russian state involvement in the future of Barentsburg become obvious for all involved. However, members of the newest actor networks representing the tourism industry and scientific community express their reserved positivism about a future without coal mining.
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