Industrial Heritage and Societies in Transition

Industrialization has shaped both our way of thinking and the relations between individuals, people and nations, but also the physical environment in which we live. Industrial remains are standing as monuments over an important epoch in history. These material remains, as well as immaterial remnants as people’s memories, can give us knowledge about a transformative epoch in history, and therefore also about the society in which we live today. The industrial buildings are an unavoidable part of our present landscape, and as such an object to intense debates. Should they be demolished, rebuilt for service or converted into museums? What can we learn from the Nordic-Baltic countries?

In a research and education program Swedish and Baltic researchers in the beginning of the 21th century met regularly to investigate and discuss the industrial transformation and industrial heritage in the Baltic Sea region. The program involved about 15 doctoral students and senior researchers from architecture, art history, economic history, history of architecture, history of ideas and industrial heritage research.

One purpose of this collaboration was to carry out studies regarding how the industrial heritage has been used in the renewal of cities and landscapes of industry in the process of transformation in the former Soviet republics and in the Nordic welfare countries. Another aim was to develop theoretical and methodological instruments in order to understand and analyse the industrial transition and transformation of society societies in the Nordic and Baltic countries. A third aim was toincrease the knowledge of the Swedish researchers about the Baltic Countries and their modern history.

The collaboration started in early 2001 with money from the Swedish Institute. From 2002 up to early 2007 the cooperation was financed by STINT [1] Fellowships Programme/Institutional grants. At the end of the program period the researchers wrote the drafts for an anthology. These texts were discussed during meetings and over Internet and rewritten a couple of times. For the PhD-students the last years of the program were also an intensive period of preparing their theses for doctoral degrees. After the publication of the anthology the collaboration has continued in new forms.

Final Report: Nisser, Marie, Isacson, Maths, Lundgren, Anders & Cinis, Andis (eds.), Industrial heritage around the Baltic Sea. Uppsala Studies in Economic History 92, Uppsala 2012.

[1]The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education.


Maths Isacson
Ekonomisk-historiska inst.
Box 513
751 20 Uppsala


            Foto: Magnus Hjalmarsson

Vid institutionen finns ett affilierat forskningscentra:

Uppsala Centre for Business History

En internationell tidskrift ges ut vid insitutionen:

Economic and Industrial Democracy

An International Journal

Published by Sage in Association with Department of Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden

Editors: Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson, Uppsala University