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Foreign Policy and Natural Resources: Swedish Neutrality from an Environmental History Perspective
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6461-7734
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9687-1940
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0611-7512
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The year 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the last time that Sweden was technically at war. Since then, Sweden has built an international image of itself as a peace-loving and morally advanced country. This is in sharp contrast with earlier Swedish history, in which Swedish Vikings and famous warrior kings like Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII caused havoc across much of the European continent. In Swedish history-writing as well as in the country's dominant social and political self-understanding, the 200 years of peace are typically attributed to a policy of neutrality, or non-alignment. The non-alignment policy has also been coupled - both in theoretical terms and in practical effect - with an expansive development aid policy towards former colonies and other developing countries in the South. The image of a benevolent and disinterested neutral country was further strengthened by high-profile international pro-activism, for example, through the United Nations and institutions like the Nobel Prize. However, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, a vivid debate among Swedish historians has led to reinterpretations Swedish neutrality during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This paper contributes to this debate by applying an environmental history lens to the analysis of political neutrality. Our hypothesis is that Sweden's non-alignment has been intimately linked to the country's role in the global natural resource system. Starting from the observation that Swedish non-alignment policy became firmly established precisely at the time of Sweden's resource-dependent industrial breakthrough in the late nineteenth century, we use primary and secondary sources to explore the intimate connections between two sets of actors: foreign policy actors and the rapidly expanding community of industrial actors. The latter sought to influence foreign policymaking both in the context of the need for secure access to natural resources not available domestically - of crucial importance for the country's growing production and export of steel, agricultural produce, and increasingly sophisticated technological artefacts - and in the context of investment in extractive industries abroad, particularly in colonial regions. At the same time, however, Swedish industrialists, engineers, and scientists active abroad were also eyed by the government as political tools.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
colonialism, foreign policy, natural resources, Sweden, Africa, Arctic, Caucasia
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-169869OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-169869DiVA: diva2:825456
Conference
World Congress on Environmental History, 8-12 July 2014, Guimaraes, Portugal
Projects
Sweden and the origins of natural resources colonialism
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

QC 20150624

Available from: 2015-06-23 Created: 2015-06-23 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Avango, DagHögselius, PerNilsson, David

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