New Book on the Emergence of Environmentalism in Sweden

David Larsson Heidenblad’s new book, Den gröna vändningen,(Nordic Academic Press, 2021), tells the history of how modern environmentalism emerged in postwar Sweden. It is the first monograph to emerge from LUCK and demonstrates a specific take on the history of knowledge. The English version of the book, The Environmental Turn in Postwar Sweden: A New History of Knowledge, will be published later this year through a collaboration between Manchester University Press and Lund University Press.

The book shows that the ”environmental turn” in Sweden occured already in the autumn of 1967 and that natural scientists led the way. 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 Dagens Nyheter. Thus, he had a unique platform to exert influence from. Through his rich, and previously unused 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 Worlds, first environmental journalists. Moreover, the book demonstrates how the pioneering historian Birgitta Odén, in collaboration with the Swedish 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 in 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, when the United Nations arranged the Stockholm conference on the human environment in June 1972, environmental knowledge had become a source of conflict between rivalling interests. 

Read more about the Swedish book on David’s blog here (in Swedish) The post includes a link to an open access version of the book.

The digital book release will take place on February 4th, 13.15-15 (in Swedish). Please e-mail the seminar leader Klas-Göran Karlsson ( if you want to attend. 

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