När man skär i nuet faller framtiden ut: Den globala krisens bildvärld i Sverige under 1970-talet

  • Date:
  • Location: Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Johansson, Gustaf
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Historiska institutionen
  • Contact person: Johansson, Gustaf
  • Disputation

The aim of this dissertation is to investigate how this notion of a threatening global crisis was visualized in Swedish public media during the 1970s.

The study has two main areas of interest. The first one entails an examination of how the visualizations relate to the present as a mode of time: how are temporal and spatial categories configured to make the “now” of global crisis visible? The second area of focus is the relationship between the visualizations and the imperative of change. This imperative was articulated in terms of concern for the global future: how did the visualizations guide, organize, and structure the ability to see the present from the perspective of global crisis?

The study is based on a wide selection of media sources: newspapers, magazines, art exhibitions, popular science books, and television programs. I also look at how concerns for the global future surfaced in educational materials for use in school and in ideas for social reform articulated within the emerging discipline of Future Studies.

In the dissertation, I show how the image-world that was created by the public circulation of global crisis narratives contained a broad range of images. Iconic ones, like photographs of the Earth from space and the J-curve diagrams, were no doubt important in the Swedish context. But they were not the only way to visualize notions of crisis on a global scale. Rather, it was the combination of many different types of visual material, providing different perspectives and possibilities, which defined the image-world that made global crisis visible from a Swedish point of view. Configurations of different times and places played an especially important role, giving visual form to the negative universal history of global crisis perception, and establishing a transhistorical space from which lessons could be learned and points of crisis brought into view.

This montage-like quality of the image-world of global crisis is particularly important when trying to understand how the imperative of change, widely articulated when these topics were discussed in the Swedish public sphere, were related to the visualizations. Through the configuration of different images and perspectives, they guided the viewers to certain examples and showed how they connected with other points of importance. They visualized a structure for perceiving the “now” of global crisis. An outline of how to comprehend these connections, and how to realize where and when it was possible to act in order to counteract them, was thus made visually present in the images.