Commodification of Nature and the Geography of the Nineteenth-Century “Lingonberry Rush” in Finnish Digitized Newspapers

Matti La Mela, Uppsala University
Minna Tamper, Aalto University
Kimmo Kettunen, The National Library of Finland

This paper explores the commodification of nature through digitized historical newspapers. It looks at the emergence of a lingonberry export boom in the Finnish public discussion in the late nineteenth century. In the 1870s, a “lingonberry rush” developed in Scandinavia due to demand of wild berries in Western Europe. In Finland, this resulted into debates about the economic potential of the wild berries, and generated small-scale industrial ventures and state-supported projects for studying berry markets and export conditions abroad. The paper studies the geography of this “red gold fever” by recognizing, identifying and analyzing location information in the nineteenth-century newspapers. The paper aims to understand how the shaping of this commodity took place in the media, how the commercial news and the export visions were diffused on the pages of the newspapers, and how, thus, this peripheral Nordic area was integrated into an international commodity chain. The paper takes use of the digital newspaper collection of the National Library of Finland and builds a text corpus, which consists of newspaper articles on wild berry-picking published between 1870 and 1910. The corpus articles are further classified according to their content and uniqueness. The paper develops a method pipeline, which recognizes and identifies place names in the historical newspapers. The method employs the trainable Stanford NER tool and uses named-entity linking (NEL) to link the extracted locations to existing ontologies. The disambiguation of linked locations is enhanced with newspaper publication metadata. The location information and the classification of the corpus articles enables the study of the development and the formation of the lingonberry rush.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 218. Textual Analysis of Digitized Newspapers