University of Oulu

Vesa-Pekka Herva, Alix Varnajot & Albina Pashkevich (2020) Bad Santa: cultural heritage, mystification of the Arctic, and tourism as an extractive industry, The Polar Journal, 10:2, 375-396, DOI: 10.1080/2154896X.2020.178377

Bad Santa : cultural heritage, mystification of the Arctic, and tourism as an extractive industry

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Author: Herva, Vesa-Pekka1; Varnajot, Alix1; Pashkevich, Albina2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
2Dalarna University, Sweden
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2022-02-12


This article assesses the construction of cultural geographies of the European far North through an exploration of how Arctic motifs and imaginaries are used in the Christmas tourism industry in Finnish Lapland, and particularly in the city of Rovaniemi, which advertises itself as the ‘Official Hometown of Santa Claus’. Specifically, we draw parallels between Christmas tourism and Arctic mining by examining the similarities and interconnections between them. This highlights how these industries are related to the Arctic landscape they operate in and how both are ultimately embedded in similar cultural perceptions of and engagements with Lapland dating back centuries. A long-term perspective on Arctic geographical imaginaries enables a critical assessment of how the tourism and mining industries are both steeped in the exoticization and mythologising of the Arctic on the one hand and in a tradition of material and symbolic exploitation of northern resources on the other. This approach helps researchers to highlight a problematic character of the current development of Christmas tourism in Lapland.

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Series: Polar journal
ISSN: 2154-896X
ISSN-E: 2154-8978
ISSN-L: 2154-896X
Volume: 10
Issue: 2
Pages: 375 - 396
DOI: 10.1080/2154896X.2020.1783775
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: This work has benefited from the financial support from the Nordic Centre of Excellence ‘Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities’ (REXSAC), funded by Nordforsk for the period 2016-2020. Albina Pashkevich's research was also funded by Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) “Mining heritage as a resource for sustainable communities: lessons for Sweden from the Arctic”.
Copyright information: © 2020 Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Polar Journal on 12 Aug 2020, available online: