Djuren i den rurala livsstilsmigrationen
Animals and Rural Lifestyle Migration
Keywords: Lifestyle migration, rural idyll, animal husbandry, interspecies relationships
This article examines the role of animals and animal husbandry in rural lifestyle migration to the Gotlandic countryside. One area of interest is the significance of animals and animal husbandry as part of migrants’ notions of the rural idyll and the place they seek. The article also describes and analyses animal-related everyday practices and interspecies relationships that are developed between migrants and animals.
The empirical material has been collected using ethnographic methods based on observations and qualitative interviews. The researcher also emerged herself in aspects of the rural lifestyle migration being studied. The informants have all left the city of Stockholm in favour of life in the Gotlandic countryside, where they devote themselves to small-scale animal husbandry and keep sheep, horses, chickens and other animals.
The theoretical foundation is that humans and other animals are in a state of constant becoming-with and, thus, create each other’s lifeworlds. The focus is on analysing everyday practices and how interspecies relationships shape the migrants and their lifestyles. At the same time, the researcher also looks at the way in which discourses affect the migrants’ rural lifestyle migration, both as cultural preconceptions and everyday practices.
The results show that animals and animal husbandry play a central role in the rural idyll and the place that migrants seek. The interspecies relationships are also important for the informants’ socialisation and establishment processes in the Gotlandic countryside. The migrants find their relationships with the animals meaningful and crucial for the established lifestyle. These close everyday relationships lead the informants to renegotiate aspects of their view of animals as well as their view of eating meat. This lifestyle with animals also involves emotional challenges related to slaughter, an aspect of animal husbandry that the migrants find stressful. The interspecies relationships documented in the material are consistently characterised by ambivalence and constant renegotiations. In summary, the article shows that the animals and the animal-related practices are crucial for the lifestyle to which the migrants aspire, the everyday life they establish, as well as for the migration project as a whole.