Living and Dying as Compost in the Torne Valley Mires




CYA, moss, compost, Sámi children, HPS


This article takes Donna Haraway’s claim that “We are compost” as a literal statement. Combining Human-Plant Studies (HPS) with the study of children’s literature, the article examines a novel set in the European Arctic as starting point for imagining what it means to live as compost. In the novel, Som om jag inte fanns [As though I wasn’t there] by Kerstin Johansson i Backe, a grieving girl, Elina, seeks out her father’s spirit in a sphagnum bog. The article draws parallels between Elina’s actions and storying activities in the mire and human-moss relationships. These relationships are reflected against indigenous ways of understanding the meshing of the worlds of the living and dead, as well as the meshing of humans with other living organisms. In doing so, it opens up a richer understand of human-plant relations, but also points out the risks of becoming one with the world


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Author Biography

Lydia Kokkola, University of Oulu

Lydia Kokkola works at the University of Oulu, Finland. Her main area of research is Children's Literature. In the past, she has headed research projects on Holocaust fiction, Adolescent sexuality, and L2 Reading. Her current research project is within Human Plant Studies. She uses children's literature as a springboard for imagining new relations with the vegetal world.






Plant Tendrils in Children's and Young Adult Literature