The Swedish mining town of Kiruna on the edge Credit: Screen shot from Kiruna – A Brand New World; Permission for publication of the screen shot granted by Analog Vision

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Kiruna is a mining city in the North of Sweden, which is forced to move 3 kilometers east because of land subsidence, caused by iron-ore mining activities. The move is a project that has attracted considerable attention, in Sweden and abroad. One example is the Czech documentary film, “Kiruna – A Brand New World”, directed by Greta Stocklassa, which we analyze in this article.

The film focusses on the lives of a number of inhabitants of Kiruna, including Timo, a local activist opposing the move, the teenage Sami Maja and Abdalrahman, a teenage refugee from Yemen. Our argument, though, is that the film actually has three main actors—the mine, the city and the soil—and that this film shows us their identities, but also the contradictions and conflicts between them. These struggles revolve around particular ideologies, where the dominant ideologies place human beings (and their economic activities) at the center, define humans and nature as two separate worlds, and see nature as something to use.

As the film often merely observes social reality, these dominant ideologies are strongly present in the film. But at the same time, the film also shows us how these dominant ideologies are contested and resisted, for instance, by some of the inhabitants, who emphasize the cost of moving the city, and the feelings of loss and nostalgia that it triggers. The film also shows how the soil itself has agency in this process, by forcing an entire city to be moved, and that using nature is not without cost either. By rendering these contestations visible, the film also shows that other ways of thinking about, and interacting with nature (and the soil), are possible, which supports a more critical dimension in thinking about human-nature relations.