Posts Tagged 'Norway'

The Power of “Cabin Porn”: Producing and Consuming Electricity in Norwegian Leisure Cabins

Finn Arne Jørgensen
Rice Hall 128
University of Virginia
September 20, 2012, 3:30-5:00pm

The somewhat speculative phrase “cabin porn” reflects a growing international interest in cabins, shedworking, and rustic, exurban living off the grid – most of it romanticizing rural and low-tech lifestyles. A number of books, magazines, and websites (the most popular of the latter named simply “Cabin Porn”) encourage people to explore their inner Thoreau at their own cabin. The cabin has become an arena where people try to work out their ambivalent relationship to technology and all the bothersome things of modern life (including other people). The history of Norwegian cabins demonstrates what happens when this dream of more authentic living at the cabin comes true – very often, our wish for simplicity and comfort becomes a spearhead for technological upgrades. This talk will examine the question of electricity generation at the cabin, particularly focusing on the complex negotiations between consumers, commercial interests, property developers, available technological infrastructure (i.e. “the grid”), and cultural values about cabin living. The history of the Norwegian leisure cabin thus gives us insight into the unintended technological consequences of the dream of a simple life in nature.

Finn Arne Jørgensen is an assistant professor in history of technology and environment at Umeå University, Sweden, and a former visiting researcher at the UVA STS Department (2005-06). His first book, Making a Green Machine: The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2011. In this STS colloquium talk, he will present parts of his research on the history of the Norwegian leisure cabin, situating it within a larger international discussion of environment, technology, and society.


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