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David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter provides a new perspective on the environmental turn by deliberately putting the spotlight on two non-scientists. The chapter tells the story of how journalist Barbro Soller and historian Birgitta Odén became engaged in environmental issues. The first half of the chapter follows Soller’s gradual transition from general reporter to full-time environmental journalist. Particular focus is placed on her close collaboration with certain researchers and her landmark reportage Nya Lort-Sverige [New filth-Sweden] in the spring of 1968. In the second half of the chapter, Birgitta Odén’s work on preparing an interdisciplinary research application and building up an environmental history research group at the Department of History in Lund is analysed. It is noted that her younger brother, Svante Odén, was the scientist who discovered and alerted the public about the environmental hazard of acid rain in the autumn of 1967.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
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David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter introduces the main research problem, taking its starting point in the UN’s first Conference on the Human Environment, arranged in Stockholm in 1972. By then, knowledge of a global environmental crisis had circulated widely in Swedish society. Five years earlier, in the summer of 1967, things were very different. At that time, it was not at all self-evident that humans were in the process of destroying their own living environment. Hence, in a short period of time, a radical change took place: an ‘environmental turn’. How did that happen? When did it happen? Who set the ball rolling? And what were the consequences? The chapter then introduces and discusses the history of knowledge, the circulation of knowledge, and this rapidly growing field’s relationship with other branches of scholarship (such as the history of science and intellectual history). The chapter also highlights international scholarship on the emergence of environmentalism and compares the Swedish trajectory to other nations, notably the United States and Sweden’s Nordic neighbours. The chapter also introduces the three main actors which the story is weaved around: chemist Hans Palmstierna, journalist Barbro Soller, and historian Birgitta Odén.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
David Larsson Heidenblad

The concluding chapter highlights the study’s most important results: the big breakthrough took place in the autumn of 1967; the driving actors were natural scientists; environmental issues began to be seen as a threat to the survival of humanity; the environmental debate contained a non-apocalyptic and more low-key strand; environmental issues became politicized and subject to conflict; the morning paper Dagens Nyheter and social democracy exerted major influence; the environmental movement emerged only after the big breakthrough. Thereafter the chapter discusses the merits of the new history of knowledge approach and the study’s contribution to international scholarship of the environmental turn. Lastly, a comparison is made between environmentalism around 1970 and the contemporary climate debate. In this way, the chapter emphasizes the importance of historical insight to tackle contemporary global challenges.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
David Larsson Heidenblad

This chapter tells the prehistory of the big breakthrough in 1967 and situates this Swedish history within a larger international context. Was it really true that something radically new happened in the autumn of 1967? Had environmental issues not been discussed in a similar way before? Drawing on the existing literature, especially Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin’s landmark study The Environment: A History of the Idea (2018), longer trends are made manifest. What is emphasized in the chapter, however, is that this longer history of environmental concern took place outside the public eye, or was understood in a more narrow sense. The chapter addresses the importance of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Rolf Edberg’s On the Shred of a Cloud (1966), and provides an in-depth account of when, how, and why Hans Palmstierna and Karl-Erik Fichtelius (editor of Människans villkor) became pioneering environmentalists. The chapter makes clear how the environmental crisis was linked to other global threats: nuclear war, overpopulation, and the depletion of natural resources.

in The environmental turn in postwar Sweden
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Postfeminist genealogies in millennial culture
Stéphanie Genz

Postfeminism is a concept loaded with contradictions. Loathed by some and celebrated by others, it appeared in the late twentieth century in a number of cultural, academic and political contexts, from popular journalism and media to feminist analyses, postmodern theories and neoliberal rhetoric. Critics have appropriated the term for a variety of purposes and movements, ranging from conservative backlash, Girl Power, third wave feminism and postmodern/poststructuralist feminism. This chapter untangles the semantic confusion surrounding a ‘post-ing’ of feminism by tracing postfeminism’s genealogy and considers its position within feminist histories. From here, the chapter investigates different incarnations of postfeminism and contemplates the possibility of a twenty-first-century, post-boom postfeminist stance – what the author calls bust postfeminism – that has emerged in response to a disillusioned and indeterminate recessionary environment characterized by deepening inequalities, dashed hopes and constantly lurking fears. It is proposed that bust postfeminism has given rise to distinct recessionary patterns and themes of heightened visibility in order to bare and illuminate the structural inequalities and power dynamics that have become glaringly obvious in the harsh post-oughts climate. In this sense, the current historical juncture requires that we re-examine how, or even whether, postfeminism is still relevant and in touch with a precarious post-millennium context.

in Post-everything
Howard Brick

Like most other post-prefix terms, the idea of ‘post-capitalist society’ originally appeared in a range of different guises, from the social-democratic vision of Anthony Crosland (1951, 1956) to the decidedly non-socialist expectations of Peter Drucker (1994). Yet Crosland’s attempt to outline a programmatic theory for the UK’s post-war Labour Party set the keynote of this ideological trend, within which George Lichtheim’s ‘post-bourgeois’ and Daniel Bell’s ‘post-industrial’ ideas also more or less fit. That trend lost steam with the global economic turbulence of the 1970s and the ‘neoliberal’ ascendancy that followed, which asserted that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism. From about 2005, however, and especially after the 2007–08 crisis, a new ‘post-capitalist’ discourse has re-emerged. This version appears more radically left wing than that of post-World War II social democrats such as Crosland. If the first version suggested that mid-twentieth-century society was no longer distinctly capitalist because it was already morphing into something else (some kind of statist ‘social market’ regime), the latest version clearly identifies and assails contemporary capitalism, seeking to surpass it in a new and different socialized order yet to come. The two different meanings highlight the ambiguity of post-concepts, which can suggest either a successor phenomenon built on (or growing out of) something given and familiar, or a strikingly new phenomenon that breaks decisively from a prior order of things.

in Post-everything
Post-ideology and the politics of periodization
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

In the late 1950s the emergence of a ‘post-ideological era’ was announced for the first time. Helmut Schelsky discussed the idea that German sociology had developed in a non-ideological direction, eventually leading to a ‘nachideologischen Epoche’ in sociology. In a review of Schelsky’s book Ortsbestimmung der Deutschen Soziologie Raymond Aron argued that this post-ideological phase characterized not only German sociology, but also sociology elsewhere and probably society as a whole. This chapter presents a Begriffsgeschichte of ‘post-ideological’ in the 1950s and 1960s and subsequently analyses the use of the concept as an intellectual and political positioning tool. By focusing on Edward Shils, Raymond Aron and Daniel Bell, this chapter discusses post-ideology in dialogue with the emergence of the so-called ‘end-of-ideology thesis’ within the context of the Cold War. This contextual reading strikingly reveals how the term post-ideological did not merely describe the world, it was first and foremost a performative concept used to force a political and intellectual intervention. This chapter also shows something else: while announcing the post-ideological era, authors often expressed the idea that society would gradually develop from one stage to another and actively strived for such a development. This emphasis on the sequence of historical stages hints at something we could call a historicist worldview.

in Post-everything
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Lessons for future posts
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

Highlighting the connections, resemblances, and sometimes notable differences between the post-constructions analysed in this volume, the epilogue brings together the strands of the earlier chapters. It shows how some post-concepts are closely related because of their performative quality while others can be linked to each other through a single author. This biographical element offers insight into the interconnectedness of post-concepts and shows how post-concepts were transferred across disciplinary, linguistic and geographical boundaries. Post-concepts are best regarded as products of intellectual interventions and positioning tools used to advocate a new stance vis-à-vis the root concept. By mapping some of these networks or conceptual webs, the epilogue concludes that post-constructions were not just descriptive linguistic tools, but strongly connected signifiers in post-war debates in the European and North-American humanities and social sciences alike. In the second part of the epilogue these observations will be applied to a recently popular post-concept: post-truth. By analysing the history, use and spread of post-truth, the epilogue demonstrates how the conceptual framework laid down in this book helps us to understand and to critically assess not only historical post-concepts but future ones as well.

in Post-everything
‘Postcolonial’ as periodizer
Andrew Sartori

The term ‘postcolonial,’ although well established in reference to the history of the Americas since the nineteenth century, proliferated in frequency through the 1960s with the acceleration of processes of decolonization. Down through the 1970s and 1980s, ‘postcolonial’ remained for the most part a relatively straightforward periodizer of political order. In the wake of both deepening disillusionment with the regimes that had followed colonial rule and the movement into Western universities of intellectuals who had emerged out of the postcolonial milieu, dissatisfactions with existing national and developmental narratives intersected with a whole set of intellectual repudiations that travelled under the loose banners of ‘postmodernism’ and ‘poststructuralism.’ In the process, ‘postcolonial’ began a slow transformation from a periodizer of political order to a periodizer of intellectual and cultural dispositions implicated in the history of colonialism. As the term ‘postcolonial’ assumed significance in primary reference to forms of artistic and scholarly practice, the object of postcolonial scholarship increasingly shifted from a problematic of historical periodization to one of conceptual approach, so that since the turn of the millennium one has been able to speak of a thriving field of ‘postcolonial medieval studies.’

in Post-everything
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Post-concepts in historical perspective
Herman Paul

The introduction guides the reader through the goals of this volume and the methodological approach adopted in its chapters. Rather than offering an all-encompassing history of post-concepts, the volume aims to shed light on the meanings, nature and functions of the post-prefix in a broad array of post-constructions. The approach is threefold. First, the volume historicizes the use of the ‘post’ in the humanities and the social sciences. Second, the volume argues that post-concepts are always critical interventions in complex and often politicized societal and academic debates. As such, they do not typically describe distance or change from a root concept. Rather, they create such distance and change by allowing their users to re-periodize, reject or retool a root concept. Third, the volume facilitates a rapprochement between the social sciences and the humanities, including philosophy and theology. By systematically tracing post-concepts through the social sciences and humanities, the volume excavates a shared history replete with unexpected (biographical) connections, transfers and parallels between disciplines too often studied in isolation from one other. Underpinning the ambitions of this volume is a solid methodological framework comprising five interpretive principles upon which all chapters are based: positioning, performativity, transfer, interconnectedness and conceptual web.

in Post-everything