This book tells the story of how modern environmentalism emerged in postwar Sweden. It shows that the ‘environmental turn’ in Sweden occurred as early as the autumn of 1967 and that natural scientists led the way. The most influential was the chemist Hans Palmstierna, who was both an active Social Democrat and a regular contributor to the nation’s leading morning paper. Thus, he had a unique platform from which to exert influence. Drawing on his rich and previously untapped personal archive, the book explores how popular environmental engagement developed in Sweden. The book also highlights the journalist Barbro Soller, who in the mid-1960s became Sweden’s – and indeed one of the world’s – first environmental journalists. Moreover, it demonstrates how the pioneering historian Birgitta Odén, in collaboration with the Swedish National Defence Research Institute, sought to launch an interdisciplinary research programme based in the humanities and the social sciences as early as 1967–1968. An important conclusion of the book is that environmentalism emerged in Swedish society before there was an actual environmental movement. However, from 1969 onwards new social movements began to alter the dynamics. Hence, by the time the United Nations arranged the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972, environmental knowledge had become a source of conflict between rival interests. The environmental turn in postwar Sweden is the first full-length study to emerge from the Lund Centre for the History of Knowledge (LUCK), and demonstrates how its specific take on the history of knowledge enhances historical scholarship.
breakthrough of environmental issues?
In international environmental history research, the
late 1960s and early 1970s are referred to as ‘the ecologicalturn’ or
‘the ecological moment’. 30
This was when environmental issues seriously began to make their presence felt in politics,
culture, and social life around the world. Characteristic of this development was that many
scientists, such as Barry Commoner in the United States, Jean Dorst in France, and Hans Palmstierna in Sweden
that time. 9 For example, the European Year of Nature Conservation in 1970 had nowhere
near the same popular support and impact.
In environmental history research, the eventful years around 1970 have been
characterized as ‘the ecologicalturn’. 10 But few historians without the environmental prefix speak of that period
in those terms. As Adam Rome and Frank Uekötter have pointed out, the emergence and
development of modern environmental awareness is poorly integrated into the general
historical narrative about the postwar
vackra och det ekologiskt hållbara , p.
Anon., ‘Kamp för Kaitum på
This chapter is based on Anna Kaijser and David
Larsson Heidenblad, ‘Young Activists in Muddy Boots: Fältbiologerna and the
EcologicalTurn in Sweden, 1959–1974’, Scandinavian Journal of History
43.3 (2018) .
Helena Klöfver, Håll
stövlarna leriga och för bofinkens talan: Naturintresse,
New History of the EcologicalTurn: The Circulation of Environmental
Knowledge in Sweden 1967’, Environment and History 24.2 (2018) and David Larsson Heidenblad, ‘Överlevnadsdebattörerna:
Hans Palmstierna, Karl-Erik Fichtelius och miljöfrågornas genombrott i
1960-talets Sverige’, in Fredrik Norén and Emil Stjernholm (eds),
Efterkrigstidens samhällskontakter (Lund: Mediehistoriskt arkiv/Media
History Archives, 2019) .
Hans Palmstierna, Plundring, svält,