I am a postdoctoral researcher with a multidisciplinary background in Human Geography, Cultural History and Urban Studies. My doctoral dissertation sought to come to grasps with what the strong tradition of Swedish social government through spatial planning means in neoliberal times by studying a large range of primary sources in the archives of Malmö Municipality. The dissertation’s main conclusion was that socio-spatial governance in Malmö partly has been re-aligned, rather than dismantled, towards neoliberal ends. Particularly the accumulation of human capital, by strategically refined investment and disinvestment in specific populations and areas, today appears to be the core social vision of spatial planning in cities like Malmö. This case highlights how neoliberalism might mean a re-invigoration of the darker side of planning, with its origins in technocratic social engineering, rather than a final departure from it.
I am still wrapping up some loose ends around what I think of as a “social neoliberalism” of Malmö, in particular how it has bearing on contemporary planning debates on “social sustainability”. My main ongoing planning research is, however, geared towards rethinking Scandinavian postwar planning, and what remains of it today as physical landscapes and planning practices. Together with my co-researchers at SLU Ultuna studying high-modernist welfarist landscape planning, I hope to show that the way in which Swedish postwar planning dealt with issues like democracy, participation, culture, recreation, leisure calls for nuancing predominant views on this period’s spatial statecraft as a pure top-down project. Indeed, how agency defined as top-down or bottom-up politics is distributed by a contentious historical process seems to me to be a core question that remains to be thoroughly explored in urban and landscape planning scholarship, as it is in many other fields.
A second strand of research I have been involved in is the spatiality of social movements and the political, cultural generative aspects of contentious politics. I have approached this issue by studying a broad range of cases in different historical and geographical settings together with researchers spanning a range of fields like Gender Studies, Digital Sociology, Human Rights Studies and Human Geography. At the present my main research on this field is about the early Scandinavian labour movement’s cooperative tradition of space-making, and how uneasily this history fits into the grand narrative of the Scandinavian welfare state and postwar social planning. My published work, however, mainly concern the translocal connections of more ephemeral contentious geographies such as housing activists squatting buildings, antifascist using blockades and anti-redevelopment protests.
At the present I'm involved in three major research projects: the Formas-funded “Welfare Landscapes and the Compact City” based at SLU Ultuna, the also Formas-funded ”Norra Sorgenfri planned, populated and problematized” based at Uppsala University and the Vetenskapsrådet-funded “Prefigurative platforms, public spaces, and planning phenomena” about the Swedish People’s parks movement. It is my ambition to as much as possible embrace the tensions of thinking, writing and working with others across disciplinary, professional, national or societal boundaries. I am always interested in making space for new collaborative ventures, be it in terms of workshops with authorities, NGOs or activists, writing for non-academic audiences, teaching and lecturing on my work inside and outside the university, supervising dissertation work or mentoring students, or doing public research with unorthodox collaborators. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any question about possible common projects even if they seem outside the box.
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