Miljöhumaniora på 1960-talet?

Birgitta Odéns miljöhistoriska initiativ och skissernas historiografi

  • David Larsson Heidenblad
Nyckelord: Historiografi, miljöhistoria, kunskapshistoria, vetenskapshistoria, miljöhumaniora


This article explores how Swedish historian Birgitta Odén (1921–2016) sought to launch an interdisciplinary environmental research programme in the late 1960s. Odén’s objective was to make history useful for political decision-making. To this end, she collaborated closely with political scientists and economists. However, the impetus for the proposed research programme – “Environment, Natural Resource and Society” – came from the Swedish Defense Research Institute. Its head, Martin Fehrm (1910–2001), gathered scholars, scientists, and technicians in order to discuss and address the looming environmental crisis already in the spring of 1967. However, the subsequent grand plans never materialized. The interdisciplinary research programme never received any substantial funding. This article offers a novel contribution to the history of historiography by demonstrating the fruitfulness of studying the early phases of historical research: planning, grant applications, and the building of local research environments. The study is based on Birgitta Odén’s bequeathed papers and interviews with former students, whom she engaged in the planned research programme. The study covers the period 1967–1969 and shows how she conceived of environmental history, at a time when no such field existed internationally. Moreover, the study provides insights into how Odén worked as a research leader and shows how the humanities were linked to the social sciences, the natural sciences, the military research complex, and leading politicians in Sweden during the late 1960s.