Making Place for the Future: Transformations of a Rural Village into an Industrial Area after 1972
Journal article, 2018
In the 1970s, officials and politicians in the Swedish municipality of Borås passed a development plan that meant a total transformation of the small rural village of Viared. The area was framed as a perfect location for a new industrial and logistics park, motivated by arguments of urbanization, rationalization, economic growth and the need for new jobs to replace the ones lost in the wake of textile industry crisis. After passing the plan in 1972, 300 houses were destroyed and the arable land replaced by industries. Some of the 600 villagers tried to protest, but were dismissed. Their farms were sold to Borås municipality under threat of expropriation, and local movement heritage (Svensson, Sörlin & Wormbs 2016) was destroyed in the process. However, the transformation has also resulted in thousands of jobs and a diversification of the industry and labor market in Borås.
This article analyzes the debate about the transformation, and the ideas and arguments used to motivate or resist the industrialization process, through the concept articulation of territory (Sörlin 1999). Two types of articulations of the landscape stood against each other – one focusing on rationalistic arguments and scientific knowledge, the other about heritage and personal knowledge. The transformation of Viared shows how the need for industrial land was prioritized over arguments of historical, traditional and cultural rights to land, as they have been in other, more debated cases in Sweden and elsewhere. The Viared case further underline how large-scale technologies and production systems tend to be less democratic (Scott 1998) and sustainable than local, traditional landscape management, as well as causing massive loss of local heritage.
articulation of territory