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About the project

Published: 3 February 2021

Pandemic in the north: A supra-disciplinary and interdisciplinary data collection on experiences, resilience and social mobilization during the Covid19 pandemic with a focus on Norrbotten County

Luleå University of Technology, the history unit at the Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, has been awarded SEK 3.089 million by the FORMAS Research Council for a twelve-month project, where the focus will be on pandemic consequences related to geopolitics, geography, age structure, natural resource extraction and Norrbotten county’s multicultural population composition and sparse population with long distances in the border areas with Finland and Norway.

The overall purpose of the project is to gather experience and capture social mobilization, partly based on the county's specific characteristics and geopolitical position, partly with a special focus on the indigenous Sami people and reindeer husbandry, as well as nursing home dementia care.

Data collection is done from volatile material from social media, web surveys, image and video collection, autoethnography and interviews while the pandemic is an ongoing situation, as well as from documents produced in relation to the pandemic. The material is used as a basis for seminar talks during the ongoing crisis, historical comparisons, planning and development of human security, crisis management and resilience, as well as for planning for a major research project.

The project is led by Docent May-Britt Öhman, Luleå University of Technology, at the history unit, in collaboration with Nursing and Medical Technology at Luleå University of Technology, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University, Center for Multidisciplinary Research on Racism (CEMFOR) , Institute for Housing and Urban Research (IBF) at Uppsala University, Norrbottens Museum, Piteå Museum, Laponiatjuottjudus, Riksorganisationen Same Ätnam and Sami reindeer herders. During the project, other organizations and interest groups in Norrbotten will also be invited to discussion. International exchange of experience takes place with the help of researchers at the Faculty of Indigenous Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, University of Michigan, USA, Tromsö University and Kobe University in Japan.

The project is based on experiences from previous research projects and also collaborates with ongoing research projects. The project is interdisciplinary and supra-disciplinary. This means, among other things, that partners and stakeholders who are active outside the academy are considered experts in their respective areas and are given crucial space to contribute perspectives and knowledge to develop issues and analyzes.

Questions asked in the material collection are based on the key concepts of vulnerability, resilience, risk, concern, security, scientific uncertainty, human security, health and well-being:

• What do individuals' experiences, actions and social mobilization look like within different groups in relation to the pandemic and the measures taken by authorities and politicians such as social distancing, border closures, restrictions on public gatherings and curfews?

• How can gender, minority and indigenous peoples' perspectives, lived experiences and first-person perspectives with questioning of urban norms as well as functional norms contribute to an inclusive view of human security, crisis management and adaptation?

• How can historical comparisons with previous pandemics and crises that Norrbotten has been affected by contribute to strengthened opportunities for human security, crisis management and adaptation?

Four seminars will be conducted within the project, where issues and results are ventilated. In addition, researchers will have a continuous exchange through digital meeting tools and personal meetings.

Collaborating parties

Project leader: May-Britt Öhman, Docent of Environmental History, guest researcher and guest university lecturer at the unit for history, Luleå University of Technology. 

Project participants:

Dag Avango, Professor of History, subject representative at the unit for history, Luleå University of Technology. 

Liz-Marie Nilsen, Research Engineer, Unit for History, Luleå University of Technology.

Curt Persson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Unit of History, Luleå University of Technology. 

Malin Olsson, certified nurse, associate professor and assistant professor, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University, Department of Ethics with philosophy of life science, and Luleå University of Technology, Health Sciences. 

Catharina Melander, Ph.D., certified nurse with specialist training in geriatric care, and senior lecturer, Luleå University of Technology, Health Sciences. 

The national organization Same Ätnam

Henrik Andersson, reindeer herder, Flakabergsgruppen, Gällivare forest Sami village. 

Eva Charlotta Helsdotter, Docent of Water Safety, Centrum for multidisciplinary research on racism, CEMFOR, Uppsala University. 

Irene Molina, Professor of Cultural Geography, Institute for Housing and Urban Research, scientific leader at CEMFOR, Uppsala University. 

Mehek Muftee, PhD, researcher at CEMFOR, Uppsala University 

Nils Harnesk, Master of Archeology, University of Gotland and Uppsala University. Head of the Cultural Environment Department at Norrbotten's Museum. Project manager for the Norrbotten Museum's part of the project.

Paulina Öquist Haugen, B.Sc. in ethnology, Stockholm University, ethnologist at Norrbotten Museum. Has overall responsibility for Norrbotten's museum's part in the project.

Sophie Nyblom, Ph.D. in Nordic ethnology from Åbo Akademi University, former museum director and antiquarian Piteå museum.

Ann-Catrin Blind, ethnologist at Laponiatjuottjudus / Laponiaförvaltningen. 

Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment. Founder of the research group, Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society (, citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, a Dakota people, in South Dakota, USA.

Minae Inahara, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University, Japan. PH.D. in Philosophy at the University of Hull, UK. 

Kyle Whyte, Professor of Environment and Sustainability and George Willis Pack Professor at the University of Michigan, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, Professor, Conflict and Peace Studies / International Politics and Security Studies, Center for Peace Studies (CPS), UiT, Norwegian Arctic University. 


Catharina Melander

Catharina Melander, Senior Lecturer, Programme Coordinator of Specialist Nursing in Primary Health Care and Elderly Care

Phone: +46 (0)920 493469
Organisation: Nursing, Nursing and Medical Technology, Department of Health, Education and Technology
Curt Persson

Curt Persson, Associate Senior Lecturer

Organisation: History, Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts
Dag Avango

Dag Avango, Professor and Head of Subject

Phone: +46 (0)920 491573
Organisation: History, Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts