Sven Lindqvist (1932-2019) has left us: Dig Where You Stand continues
“One of Sweden’s most important and controversial postwar writers who aimed his fire at European imperialism” says The Guardian in an obituary of Sven Lindqvist: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/03/sven-lindqvist-obituary
Sven Lindqvist’s publications and Dig Where You Stand (DWYS) thinking have been a significant influence on UCL scholar Andrew Flinn and his work for a number of years (https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/dig-where-we-stand/2012/04/08/dig-where-we-stand-or-when-you-are-in-a-hole-dont-stop-digging/). When the CCHS collaboration with scholars at the University of Gothenburg began in 2013, DWYS became a critical theme guiding the cluster’s work. Together with UGOT scholar Astrid von Rosen, Flinn interviewed Lindqvist in May 2016, exploring his DWYS history and philosophy. The CCHS Archives cluster subsequently arranged several DWYS workshops, among them Digging Across Borders: Historicising Dig Where You Stand in Sweden and Internationally (November 2016) attended by Lindqvist himself, accompanied by his wife Agneta Stark. Lindqvist generously contributed a new text on the history and motivations behind DWYS, which he read to the workshop participants.
Lindqvist’s DWYS approach is also an important strand within urban sociologist Catharina Thörn’s work in the UGOT Department of Cultural Sciences (KUV). In September 2018 the Archives cluster together with Thörn arranged a two day workshop to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the first publication of Lindqvist’s Gräv där du står (Dig Where You Stand), reading and discussing the book as living document and critical instigator. When published in 1978 Gräv där du står was a critical intervention into the conflict between the competing narratives of workers’ histories and more dominant and pervasive elite histories. The text managed to unite a general leftist zeitgeist of democratizing cultural and knowledge production with the concrete task of empowering workers to create their own history. Currently the Archives cluster continues to explore ways of publishing a long-awaited English translation of Gräv där du står (1978). In conclusion the CCHS and KUV scholars engaged in DWYS work wish to express their gratitude to Lindqvist for his generosity, engagement and the critical digging method that is still with us.
Andrew Flinn and Sven Lindqvist in Stockholm, May 2016. Photo credit: Astrid von Rosen