tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

Tag Archives: culture


Mining and Death


Death is always present, explicitly so for people in war zones, civic unrest, starvation etc. How about death and work? For undertakers and professionals in palliative care, for example, death is highly present, but for most of us at work, the presence of death is more shady. It might be in the back of our minds, in a story over-heard in the coffee room, in an e-mail from the boss […]

Not all about mining…


Did you know, it’s not all about mining? It’s also about mushrooms, gardening and art. * Since the 1980s, in an abandoned part of the mine on level 540, the mushroom shiitake is cultivated. The temperature is very even, no insects, basically a sterlie environment, which make the conditions perfect for the mushrooms. * There used to be a garden inside the gates where “they grew tomatoes, grapes, melons and […]

The tones and tonnes of Malmfälten


“You are meters, you are tonnes”, sings Johan Airijoki, singer-songwriter from Gällivare, Malmfälten (in Swedish). Among the key performance indicators that miners speaks to us about, we find that those two are rather salient: how many meters advanced as new tunnels are made (drifting) and how many tonnes of ore are loaded on your shift. In short: “You are meters, you are tonnes”. Kiruna is part of the region called […]

Visiting Kiruna again


Its been a while since we were in Kiruna and although in a writing-up phase, Johan went up there earlier this week, meeting with some of those we’ve talked to over the years (and some new ones!) as well as experiencing first hand how the movement of the city centre due to the expanding mine is progressing. Most of those whom Johan talks to are frustrated over the fact that […]

Storyteller #25 – an indigenous voice


Talking to an indigenous man from one of the Same villages in the Kiruna area, we ask: In your village, with reindeer herding and such, is it okay to work in the mine? Yes, it is. It must be up to each one of us because we live in a society that looks the way it does. With the economic values we have, I completely understand a young person growing up […]

The Swedish National Treasure


Below is a musicvideo by us (in Swedish) about “The book of LKAB : the national treasure of Sweden”, published by LKAB, the mining company running the Kiruna mine. The book celebrates the first 125 years of mining in Malmfälten and it is available in both English and Swedish. It’s a very informative read, revealing how rich and international the history of mining in the north is. We highly recommend […]

Undermining gender


Johan has read “Mining coal and undermining gender: rhythms of work and family in the American west” by Jessica Smith Rolston (Rutgers University Press, 2014). Here are some of his reflections: At the outset of our project we knew that gender would play an important role, particularly given the history and context of the Kiruna mine (also for the Saskatchewan-case). There’s almost a mythology around the miner, a man of few […]

Storyteller #5 – management


This story about management is told by a man who have been working in the mine for a quarter of a century, both under and above ground, previously as a worker, now as a manager. – I have my own theory: that it’s more trustworthy, for those (workers) who have to change, when a (a leader with experience of working in a mine) comes. ‘He’s one of us, so he […]

Storyteller #4 – work and culture


Our storyteller #4 is a man, born and raised in Kiruna, a long-time miner, but who has now left LKAB. Below is a short but rather layered story on work and culture: – There is a kind of escape tendency at LK(AB), people are curious about trying something new since LK is rather controlled. It’s a big company, there are a lot of meetings, there are unbelievably many protocols, and it shall… […]

Storyteller #3 – the dream factory


Our third storyteller is a man, born and raised in Kiruna. He has been working under ground since the 1980s. The story is about leaving, arriving and staying at the dream factory, a k a the mine and LKAB. It comes out of a discussion about a mutual friend of ours leaving LKAB. – Yes, sure, there are those who have come and gone, and that have left in other […]

The way of the iron ore


The theater group Tornedalsteatern/Tornionlaakson teatteri works to enhance the interest for the culture and language (meänkieli) of people living in Torndealen, close to the border between Finland and Sweden. The group is a mix of amateurs and professionals doing very professional productions. Their latest project is a theater called Malmens väg/Malmin tie/Málmma geaidnu (the way of the ore) and is about the role of the iron ore mines in the […]

Mining capitalism


We’re reflecting on the book Mining capitalism (University of California Press, 2014) by Stuart Kirsch, professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. We’ve mentioned this book before, but thought we’d dedicate a post on why we see it as relevant and useful to Organizing rocks. First of all, it’s a very encompassing book, targeting the relationship between corporations and their critics, between capitalist modes of production and critics of it, a dialectical […]

Enacting a mining corporation


We’re reflecting on “Enacting the corporation: an American mining firm in post-authoritarian Indonesia” (University of California Press, 2014) by anthropologist Marina Welker. Although in intervals, we read. We prefer to read books, preferably good books. Not all good books happen to be relevant to Organizing rocks, though, but reading Marina Welker’s book reminded us again that we should start sharing good readings on our blog (a review of Stuart Kirsch’s […]

Working hard or hardly working?


On March 18, local newspapers report that two workers at LKAB:s iron ore mine in Malmberget (125 km from Kiruna) have been caught furnishing a secret sleeping room at work. On March 26, they are fired. Two other workers chose to resign. On March 20, we arrive in Kiruna, and the first person we meet is the man delivering the rental car. He is born and raised in Kiruna, and […]