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A Temple of Technology: Modernity and Industral Heritage at the Gothenburg Exhibition of 1923
KTH, Superseded Departments, Industrial Economics and Management.
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [sv]

The empirical focus of this study is the Jubilee Exhibitionin Gothenburg in 1923–with more than four millionvisitors the biggest exhibition ever held in the Nordiccountries. In its wide-ranging displays of both historical andcontemporary material, technology and technological artifactsoccupied a central position. The technology was revealed,highlighted, and elevated. The exhibition could be compared toa temple of technology, where technology representedconceptions of both the past and the future.

The overall purpose of the thesis is to discuss the use ofhistory and the view of technology as factors in a criticalphase of the modern project in Sweden. More specifically theintention is to analyse the way in which the GothenburgExhibition, with its historical references and technologicalmetaphors, constituted a resource for the implementation of themodern project. The aim is to show how the exhibition bothreflected and contributed to changes in two areas that wereessential to the modern project. One is the view of museums andcultural heritage, the other the introduction of new principlesand methods in modern industry. In both of these fields changeswere taking place at this time that were to have implicationsthroughout the twentieth century. By analyzing these processesas complementary parallels in the modernization of society Iwish to give examples of how history is created in its own timeand also of how it is used and fulfils an important function inthat time.

Starting from the technological artifacts exposed in theexhibition, the thesis discusses changes taking place inSwedish society in a large perspective. Visual material such asphotographs, drawings, and plans play an important part inunderstanding the exhibition and its contents. The theoreticalapproach is inspired by cultural theory dealing with the use ofhistory as a means of creating social community, one importantconcept being Eric Hobsbawm’s”invention oftradition”.

The study shows how an industrial heritage was establishedduring the years shortly after the Great War, and that thisprocess was closely related to upheavals which were currentlytaking place in Swedish industry and society. Rationalization,professionalization and scientific methods were advocated inindustry, but also in the expanding cultural heritage sector.The study also shows that the linear approach introduced inindustry must be understood as a part of a larger concept ofhistory, based on linearity. The Gothenburg exhibition isunderstood as an event for social and cultural mobilization,suggesting a common past and a common path to the future.

Key words:industrial history, history of technology,cultural history, modernity, cultural heritage, use of history,exhibitions, museums, museology, industrial identity,professionalization, the Gothenburg exhibition of 1923, Sweden,Gothenburg, 20th century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Industriell ekonomi och organisation , 2003. , 343 p.
Trita-HOT, 2041
Keyword [en]
industrial history, history of technology, cultural history, modernity, cultural heritage, use of history, exhibitions, museums, museology, industrial identity, professionalization, the Gothenburg exhibition of 1923, Sweden, Gothenburg, 20th century
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3505ISBN: 91-7844-625-2OAI: diva2:9318
Public defence
NR 20140805Available from: 2003-04-28 Created: 2003-04-28Bibliographically approved

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