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Environmental Trauma in the Narratives of Postwar Reconstruction: The Loss of Place and Identity in Northern Finland After World War II

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Trauma, Experience and Narrative in Europe after World War II

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in the History of Experience ((PSHE))


This chapter discusses environmental trauma caused by sudden changes in the everyday physical environment. For example, various development projects altering the environment can activate trauma processes similar to war-related trauma. The origin of environmental trauma is an event that changes the physical environment, but it easily extends to other areas of life. The study is based on qualitative interviews, and the data is analyzed leaning on human-environment and place-attachment theories. The interviewees had experienced dramatic changes in their environment caused by the Lapland War and postwar hydropower construction in Northern Finland. The change in the environment destabilized the wellbeing of local people, causing depression and anxiety. Environmental trauma is characterized by disconnections, silences and delays. Although trauma can be repressed for decades, it can still be passed on in a socially mediated process.

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I wish to thank Dr. Marjo Tourula for her contribution to this work. Our discussions are much appreciated. This work has been supported by the Academy of Finland (grant number 310855).

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Autti, O. (2022). Environmental Trauma in the Narratives of Postwar Reconstruction: The Loss of Place and Identity in Northern Finland After World War II. In: Kivimäki, V., Leese, P. (eds) Trauma, Experience and Narrative in Europe after World War II. Palgrave Studies in the History of Experience. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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