Gendered Performances in Swedish Forestry : Negotiating Subjectivities in Women-Only Networks

Sammanfattning: Environmental resource use is intimately intertwined with gendered power relations. Overarching ideals, governance and management are shaped by the negotiation and performance of gendered subjectivities. This thesis identifies and analyses key features of such negotiations and performances in the context of contemporary Swedish forestry. More specifically, I examine the gendered performances of women forest owners engaged in women-only forestry networks. The study draws on qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and textual analysis. From the perspective of feminist geography, the study builds on a poststructural feminist understanding of gender as relational, spatial, intersectional, and performative processes that influence people’s relationships with the environment. The thesis consists of a comprehensive summary and three papers in which different aspects of women forest owners’ gendered performances are addressed. In Paper I, I show how the women forest owners perform both femininities and female masculinities in ways that both challenge and endorse hegemonic forestry masculinities. In Paper II, I analyse how Swedish forest policy and governance are realised in the social domain through the negotiations and performances of the masculinist policy construct ‘the active forest owner’. Being ‘active’ mainly entailed an orientation towards industrial timber production but was also challenged in the women-only network spaces to also include feminine-coded social and/or environmental values based on an ethics of care. In Paper III, I focus on the tension around the framing of women-only networks as feminist and/or gender equality projects. I argue that the women’s reluctance to politicise their collective action are gendered performances based on a postfeminist sensibility, articulated, and maintained through various discursive moves. Throughout the papers, I also show how the women’s performances are permeated by spatialities and spatial power relations in different ways. The findings contribute to the overlapping fields of feminist geography, gender studies, environmental (forest) governance, and rural studies.