Project (2017)

To Reconcile the Irreconcilable: Spatial Tools for Negotiating Environmental Conflicts in Swedish Land-use Planning

My project concerns Swedish land-use planning between 1966 and 1972, and it focuses on a national land-use plan created with the stated goal of eliminating future conflicts between industry and environmental interests. The national land-use plan was implemented in several different prevailing laws, among them the Environmental Protection Act of 1969. Through the planning process and the political debate that followed, I explore how spatiality was used as a tool to answer the critique that the rising environmental movement had levelled against industry and technology. The project discusses the hands-on methods and theories that guided the land-use plan and reflected the strong position of spatiality as a technocratic knowledge field during the 1960s and 1970s. The project also considers the tension between different spatial knowledge systems and ideals such as "spatial equality" and different spatial scales. Here I am particularly interested in the discussions that followed a confrontation between, on the one hand, the global-scale scenario of a "shrinking earth" causing crowding and resource shortages, and on the other the massive regional-scale problem of areas depopulated due to unemployment—a serious issue in parts of Sweden in the late 1960s and early 1970s.