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Sveagruvan: svensk gruvhantering mellan industri, diplomati och geovetenskap 1910-1934
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), History of Science and Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6461-7734
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the development of a mining industry in Spitsbergen and its relationship to Swedish scientific polar research. The empirical focus is the history of Swedish coal mining on Spitsbergen between 1910 and 1934 and the mining activities at Sveagruvan 1917-1925. The aim of the thesis is to explain why this coal-mining project was started, why it was developed and why it was terminated. It critically examines a linear model that has been used to explain the development of this mining project, i.e. the idea that scientific research leads on to technological development and industrial activities in a linear sequence.

A theoretical and methodological framework called Actor Network Theory (ANT) is used to describe and analyse the Swedish coal-mining project. In the construction of an actor network human as well as non-human actors are involved, shaping the project and influencing its results. If an industrial project shall be successful, the project leadership must maintain control over both the local and global parts of the network and maintain a flow of resources between them.

The actors that initiated the Swedish coal-mining project on Spitsbergen in 1910 wanted it to fulfil both economic and political needs. Investors from the iron- and steel industry wanted Swedish coal for the production of coke for blast furnaces. At the same time the Swedish government wanted to stop Norwegian attempts to take control over Spitsbergen – at the time a no-mans land. By opening up Swedish coalfields on Spitsbergen, Sweden would strengthen its position in future international negotiations on the legal status of this Arctic Archipelago.

Over time, the motives for the project were changed. This was a result of shifting economic and political priorities. The quality of the coal resources was not suitable for coke production, but good enough for steam production. There was also a shift in focus from foreign policy to the politics of energy after the Svalbard treaty was signed in 1920.

With the use of the theoretical model of the thesis, an attempt is made to prove that the project failed for three main reasons. First, the actors financing the project did not deliver the necessary resources to maintain the industrial activities. Second, the Swedish coalmine Sveagruvan did not deliver enough resources to maintain the support of the politicians and the private investors. Third, the project managers failed to maintain their control over the project.

In the thesis it is shown that the linear model can be questioned, in this case with regard to the idea that the coal-mining project was a product of Swedish polar science. No doubt the input of geo-scientific knowledge from Swedish polar scientists was important, but so were other forms of knowledge and other actors. The linear model was a useful instrument, however, in the construction of history – a history valuable as a tool to enrol investors and to defeat political enemies. In the last-mentioned sense, the model was used to create a prestigious Swedish history of Spitsbergen – a history that gave Swedish citizens credit for the industrial development of the Arctic Archipelago.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2005. , 440 p.
Trita-HOT, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 2005:2048
Keyword [en]
History of technology, History of technology, industrial heritage studies, industrial archaeology, coal mining, linear model, geo-science, nationalism, diplomacy, foreign policy, iron and steel, Actor Network Theory, ANT, Industrial project, 20th century, industrial history, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway, Sweden.
Keyword [sv]
National Category
History of Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-218ISBN: 91-974131-7-8OAI: diva2:7930
Public defence
2005-06-10, K2, K, Teknikringen 28, Stockholm, 10:15
QC 20100831Available from: 2005-05-25 Created: 2005-05-25 Last updated: 2010-09-10Bibliographically approved

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