Lars Nyström

Senior Lecturer

Department of Historical Studies
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41255 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Lars Nyström

My main research interest is in agrarian history, but I have also studied aspects of industrial history, urban history, labour history, environmental history, as well as questions related to power and its legitimization. Chronologically, I cover the period from the 16th century up till present day, with a main focus on the modern period.

In my dissertation, Potatisriket (The Potato Realm, 2003) I studied the landed estate of Stora Bjurum in western Sweden from 1857-1917. The ambition was to understand this place from the ground up – from the natural geographic conditions, agriculture, and organization of work, up to questions of social identity, culture, and politics. The main focus was power. How does a community where one person has virtually all means of power work? How did the master use power and for what purposes? What could apparently powerless subjects do to assert themselves and their interests? How did all this change during industrialization and democratization?

After dissertating, I began a VR project Det tredje Sverige (The Third Sweden) on the processes of rural industrialization in western Sweden in the postwar period. The project combined theories from the writings on Early Modern protoindustrialization and on post war industrial districts in “third Italy”. The results are summarized in En industrialisering efter industrialiseringen (An Industrialization after Industrialization) (2012). For a presentation in English, see the articles “A Take-off from the Land” and "From Farms to Firms".

During the last several years, I have begun a research collaboration with Erik Hallberg, Ph.D. Much of our research focuses on commons, open fields, and enclosures in Sweden during the 18th and 19th centuries. Currently, I am working on the following projects:

The database Sweden’s Arable Lands, 1810 and 1870 (financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2016, project leader E. Hallberg).

The project uses information from documents of land surveying in the compilation of a database on acreages and agricultural production in Sweden 1810 and 1870. Together with preexisting databases (developed by, among others, Lennart Palm), this database will make it possible to analyze the development of Swedish agrarian society from 1570 to 1990. Contributing researchers include E. Hallberg, L. Nyström, Lennart Palm, and Lotta Lejonhufvud.

Linking Land and Sea: Building and Analyzing Long Series of Data on the Integration of Sweden in the Early Modern Northern Sea – Atlantic Economy (financed by Sea and Society, Gothenburg University, 2017, project leader L. Nyström).

This project connects databases of agrarian production with maritime trade, facilitating the study of Sweden’s integration into the growing North Sea economy after 1500. An especial focus is on development in the lake region of Vänbäckenet and the relationship between this area and markets in the Netherlands and Great Britain, via the river Göta älv. Participating researchers: L. Nyström, E. Hallberg, and Lennart Palm.

Egyptian Plagues and Jerusalem’s Destruction: Epidemics, Malnutrition, Starvation, and Power’s Legitimacy in Early Modern Sweden, 1590-1810 (Vetenskapsrådet 2016, project leader Martin Linde).

The project analyzes how mortality crises were interpreted and dealt with ideologically and politically in Early Modern Sweden, with a focus on how these crises were understood as God’s punishment and on the potential social obligations of the ruling elites to deal with the situation. Participating researchers: Martin Linde, Daniel Larsson, E. Hallberg, and L. Nyström.

The Power over the Land: Gothenburg’s Land Acquisitions in the Postwar Period: Angered and Västra Frölunda (Anna Ahrenbergs fund, project leader L. Nyström).

The project studies how Gothenburg city secured access to land prior to the Million Program housing project, focusing on the conflicts with earlier independent municipalities and landowning farmers. The project is a part of the Anna Ahrenberg Foundation’s program for Gothenburg’s 400-year anniversary. Participating researchers: L Nyström, E Hallberg, Linus Karlsson.

Steering Styrene: The Swedish Plastic Hull Industry and the Implementation of Environmental Legislation, Institutional and Industrial Change (Vetenskapsrådet, project leader L Nyström).

This is an old environmental history project. Research is focused how the state attempted to clean up dirty industry, the manufacture of plastic yachts, whose emissions of styrene threatened the health of its workers and the surrounding environment.

Parallel with this research and teaching demands, I have since 2003 been involved as lead writer in the project Perspektiv på historien, producing the currently predominant material used for teaching history in Swedish high schools.