Appreciation through use: How industrial technology articulates an ecology of values around Norwegian seaweed
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This paper offers a moral history of the industrialisation of seaweed harvesting in Norway. Industrialisation is often seen as degrading natural resources. Ironically, we argue, it is precisely the scale and scope of industrial utilisation that may enable non-instrumental valuations of natural resources. We use the history of the Norwegian seaweed industry to make this point. Seaweed became increasingly interesting to harvest as a fruit and then as a crop of the sea in the early twentieth century following biochemical applications for alginates derived from seaweed. When harvesting was mechanised, however, attention turned to the environmental and aesthetic value of kelp forests. Further, the sale of the industry to the American FMC corporation flagged the national value of these plants. In sum epistemic, aesthetic and moral appreciations of natural resources are tangled up and co-evolve with their industrial utilisation, in an ecology of values. Our account uses interview and ethnographic material from key sites in Norway.