Tarja Tuulia Salmela
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I'm working as a postdoctoral research fellow during years 2021-2024 in the Traveling Post-Corona research project (https://uit.no/project/reiselivet-post-corona). My research focuses on a growingly popular, mobile and 'alternative' lifestyle called vanlife. Being curious about how campervans become minimal homes for people with various backgrounds and motivations for vanlife, and how they encounter places where they travel, I aim to form a dialogue between global and local, place-sensitive, approaches to the lifestyle. Importantly, I aim to theoretically deepen the understandings of vanlife from a mere form of travel and explore its post-anthropocentric potentialities.
I treat vanlife as a way of relating to the more-than-human world that allows us to re-visit our taken-for-granted assumptions of normality in regards of fixity and permanence. This has implications to the ways we conceive 'travel' and the meaning of 'destinations' and their management. Campervans with their material assemblages can lead us to understand relational composition of places that can enrichen our current ways of understanding and relating to 'destinations'. The study is not blind to the ecological, social and and political challenges that vanlife as a nomadic lifestyle holds and it calls for research that brings into light the complexities embedded in the tension between 'freedom', 'destination management' and local housing and camping politics.
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Current research focus: vanlife, nomadic theories, relational place-making, indigenous onto-epistemologies, post-anthropocentric methodological developments
Previous and ongoing research interests: sleep and dreaming, sleep market, neoliberality and tracking technologies, animals and responsible tourism, proximity tourism, research with trees and deadwood
Theoretical map guiding my research: Feminist new materialisms, relational ontologies, posthumanist theories, indigenous onto-epistemologies, post-anthropocentric theorizing, critical tourism studies, critical organization studies, new mobilities
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