The Road in the Park
As I sit in the hotel lobby of Abisko Tourist Station an employee talks to me about his experience of being so far away from Stockholm. The distance is significant. To get from Stockholm to Abisko you have to travel about 1400 kilometers north. I listen carefully and he says that although he is situated in such a faraway place he can order fresh milk and have it delivered to his workplace in Abisko in only two days. He found it strange and he thought of it to as an evidence of the globalized world we today find ourselves in. Although, what is presented here will not concern fresh milk, the shop clerk I was talking to managed to frame one of the main themes of the thesis with his thoughts: How come such an extremely peripheral place like Abisko can be so well integrated into the national picture, both symbolically and practically?
Abisko’s history and importance within a national narrative are connected to single infrastructural projects such as the railroad, the road leading there and tourism ventures like Abisko National Park. Trekking in the national park and later skiing tourism in Abisko’s vicinity have had a status as a genuine Swedish experience since the beginning of 20th century. The shop clerk I was talking to was employed to serve that tourism and the railroad and the road are the backbone of communication which allows it. Together, the communication infrastructure and the tourism in Abisko serve as means and purpose of human presence in the region. Without infrastructure and tourism, Abisko as we see it today would not exist.
However, both Abisko National Park and the Transnational Road 98 are objects in the landscape constructed and administered with the agency of the state. Both the road and the park were once ratified by the Swedish Riksdag and are also administrated by it. Moreover, the state is not without ideological influence. Every artifact created with the agency of the state, is built with a specific ideological idea behind it. Since it is impossible to foresee all probable consequences of a specific political plan, the result that is supposed to be achieved, is necessarily incorporated within a utopian political vision. The argument looks something like this: by building A, we achieve B, and when we have B, daily life will be easier. It is politics, plain and simple. Both the road, the railroad and the national park amongst other things followed this argument-structure in one way or another as they were built.
The notion that the ideological vision that accompanies every political venture - be it roads or national parks – means that these visions can linger. Even though the state and its ideological basis evolves and takes on new ideas. The gap in time between political ventures in a specific region can then cause conflicts although the same state is the agent behind both the conflicting ideas.
The road and the park that this thesis involve are examples of such a conflict. The park was instigated with a specific set of ideological motifs. The road was built with another, not necessarily compatible with the first. In this way the artifacts left in a landscape leave traces from their contemporary ideology. As we will see later, these two different goals would conflict and cause a political debate in the Swedish Riksdag. For some of the politicians something would be gained by the road. For others, something would be lost. That something is the specific ideological symbolism of the road and of the park.
A part from that, artifacts in the landscape are also evidence of earlier presence. To be able to build something, anywhere, you must know of the place you want to build on. Every political act to build a road or instigate a park reveals a preceding information gathering of that place.
So to summarize, Transnational Road 98 and Abisko National Park are inevitably political objects and they are present in the daily life of everyone living or visiting Abisko. They are things taking up space in the landscape and they are objects made and controlled by the state apparatus. Inherent in them are the ideology set into motion as they were built. They are also evidence of human presence, both after and before their making. Furthermore, the fact that the road and the park caused a political conflict presents a possibility to see how the ideological background of each object linger in time.
This is all good. But there is one thing that must be resolved, and that is the matter of distance between center and periphery. I mentioned it above, the distance between centralized power in Stockholm and Abisko is significant. Somehow the state must resolve the problem of distance on a practical level to be able to enforce political agendas. To understand the process in were a state takes place I must study how it sees the landscape without having to be there.
To aid me in this, I have chosen to adopt the American anthropologist James C. Scott’s perspective. Scott’s book Seeing like a State has an emphasis the power-relationship between state and landscape. He also uses maps and city plans as one of his main sources. Scott studies how an otherwise blind state takes control over territory and people through systems of measurement such as maps. For a state to be able to ‘see’ and exercise control in lands were it is barely present, it needs tools and systems that are uniform to substitute the lack of physical presence. Moreover, the two authors Lars Ottosson and Allan Sandberg, who worte the book Generalstabskartan 1805-1979, notes that the 19th century Swedish state cartography focused initially on the northern regions. It was part of a state venture to minister Lapland’s further cultivation and colonization.
As these scholars have shown, the map seems to float somewhere in the middle between the state and the physical landscape. And it seems that the very cartographic craft in Sweden is closely associated with Lapland’s development and history. So to formulate some sort of general scope with this background: this thesis will try to explore the question of how the process of place making plays out in a specific region: How do a state incorporate territory both in a symbolic and a practical way? I will treat the concept of maps as the departure point for this question.
By using maps included in three different argumentative sources - all depicting the Kiruna-Abisko-Narvik region - I will try to discuss how the process of place making occurs and what the map’s role is in this process. To operationalize the scope has been divided into three research questions. The first concerns what the road and the park's advocates aimed to achieve by building or instigating them. In chapter II and III this first question will be covered:
By using the backdrop provided with the first two chapters, I will discuss how the road and the park’s ideological roles in a national perspective caused a political conflict in Swedish Riksdag as they confronted each other. This part will be covered in Chapter IV and can be operationalized with the following question:
2.Why did Abisko National Park and Transnational Road 98 conflict in Proposition 1974:107 and in what way were the conflict connected to the objects symbolic meaning?
While answering the above questions I hope to approach an argument about what the maps’, actual role is in the relationship between the state and the landscape the state claims to control. Chapter V will thus be a continued discussion of the map’s particular role and the process of place making as politics are played out in a specific place:
3.In what way are the symbolism of Abisko National Park and Transnational Road 98 connected to state power and what is the map’s role as an immutable mobile?
This part will function as a brief contextualizing chapter and a short summary of historiography concerning the two objects of interest for the thesis.
Road building in general around the Kiruna area seems to have been sparse during the first half of the 20th century. By 1926 Kiruna was connected through Altajärvi to Svappavara and then Gällivare and from here further to the national road network. Abisko, which is a quite small community of only about 150 permanent inhabitants, was not connected to the national road network until 1980. The road construction started in Kiruna 1978 and reached Abisko by 1980, Riksgränsen 1982, and was finally connected to Narvik by 1984. With the completion of Transnational Road 98 (today known as European Route 10), Abisko Tourist Station, Abisko Research Station and of course Abisko National park, were finally connected with another communication infrastructure beside the railroad.
As I did research on the road project between Kiruna and Narvik I discovered that there had been some controversy about the road as it was planned. I found protocols from the Nordic Council discussing a transnational road and where it would fit on a Scandinavian economic perspective. There were also an Environmental impact assessment report conducted by Uppsala University as it was finished which discussed the environmental and economic consequences. Additionally, I heard rumors of individual resistance from people living near Abisko. Irritated [EL1] people were pulling up markings during nightly raids, markings placed by the Road Office. There were also interest groups in Kiruna opposing the road, being loud, and making 'No Road!' T-shirts.
Finally, I found that as the road was at last to be built, the proposition that was written to ratify the intrusion of Abisko National Park caused some debate in the Swedish Riksdag. This proposition was called 1974:89 and was taken up in Swedish Riksdag by the minister of Agriculture Svante Lundkvist. The critique against it mainly came from the right wing politician Hans Wachtmeister, who was opposed and replied by a variety of left wing and center politicians.
Abisko national Park came about in an age where the ideology of nationalism was a great part of the political discourse in Sweden. By 1909, in Proposition 1909:125, a group of scientists active in the Abisko region proposed that nine national parks, six of them located in the arctic region, should be protected and placed under the Swedish crowns administration. The parks’ were made with specific criterion and were considered of great national importance. Building a paved road straight through it perhaps caused unease amongst those who held the park in high regard.
The ethnologists’ Billy Ehn, Jonas Frykman and Orvar Löfgren's book Försvenskningen av Sverige discusses how the Swedish people cultivated nationalism. The purpose was to gather the population and creating an individual identity of Swedishness. Furthermore, Sverker Sörlins dissertation The land of the future from 1988 described the relationship between the national parks, tourism and science and its connection to the overall national development. Concerning nationalism as a wider concept Sörlin has also been involved in Den globala nationalismen together with Björn Hettne och Uffe Östergård. This book discusses several different themes on nationalism and how it has progressed ever since the 17th century until today.
All together these scholarly works point in the direction that the national parks’ roles in a wide national sense were used as a political artefact to convey a vision of what was Sweden and Swedishness as an individual identity.
The road on the other hand, was built and planned in a different ideological environment. Concerning the road building practices in Sweden the Social anthropologist Olle Hagman's dissertation, Bilen, Naturen och det moderna  brought up some light on what roads meant during the mid-20th century in Sweden. Hagman studied Swedish car commercials and ads to see how the swedes relation to nature has changed with the implementation of the automobile society in urban planning and culture. Hagman discusses automobility as a part of the proto-ideology modernism and he further describes the relationship between the car as technology and the human and how the two relate to nature. He claims that the car was seen as an extension of the human body in many ways. With it, the citizens could travel farther and carry more with them. The historian Per Lundin has also contributed to the field of automobility. In the dissertation The Car Society: Ideology, Expertise and Rule-making in Post-War Sweden Lundin took a wide national grip and examined how Sweden became a car society. According to him the technocrats of the first half of the 20th century had a significant role in advocating the expansion of automobility within the confines of urban planning.
What both these authors have shown is that the road building and cars were loaded with a modernist ideology. Both on a personal level and in a nationwide perspective the car and the urban planning that followed in their footsteps were utterly political. So if the park is perhaps best analyzed with 19th century nationalism in mind, the road should be seen with mid-20th century modernism as context.
The Swedish state’s involvement in Lapland’s development and the immense resource extraction has not been without problems, especially from a Sami perspective. A notable scholarly work on the subject that relates to this thesis is that of the Swedish historian of science and technology May-Britt Öhman. In the article “On Visible Places and Invisibilized Peoples” she describes how the Swedish state constantly made the Sami ‘problem’ [EL2] invisible throughout the exploitation of Lapland’s hydropower resources. Furthermore, according to Umeå Univeristy Historian Daniel Lindmark the asymmetrical relationship between the Swedish state and the Sami is seldom recognized as colonialization in Swedish historiography. This should also be related to the point that James C. Scott tries to make: As the state takes control over the spatial realm with uniform methods of measurement, local practical knowledge [Scott describes this as mētis] and needs from people on the actual site are ignored and replaced by the state’s ideological frame. As we dig into the Swedish state’s actual activities in the Abisko region, perhaps some clues to how this ‘invisibilization’ occurs can be traced.
Concerning the historiography of Abisko National Park and Transnational Road 98, very little has been written in a humanistic scholarly sense. Two books are notable; Birgitta Forsells and Margareta Redin's Nästan allt om Abisko and Agge Theander's Abisko Turist Station – de första hundra åren. However, none of these books are scholarly works, but they are more or less what is available on the subject. Concerning the research station and its history, Carl Gustaf Bernhard’s Abisko Scientific Research Station written 1989, is notable but can mainly be used for contextualizing information. Lennart Bäck and Christer Jonasson's Environmental Impact Assessment Report [EIAR] is probably the only scholarly written work at all concerning the road specifically after it was finished.
 The American historian of British modern history Jo Guldi said that: “Modern government in developed nations have mediated the relationship between individuals and infrastructure technology for so long that the role of the state in designing ports, sidewalks, and bus lines is nowadays taken for granted.” Jo Guldi, Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State (London 2012), p.4.
 James C. Scott, Seeing like a State (New Haven 1998). I will return to his argument in the chapter below: “Maps and Landscapes – Theory and method”
 See also the book Civilizing Nature. Here, the historians Gissibl, Höhler & Kupper draws attention to the technologies of statehood to understand the process of creating national parks: the map, the expedition, the fieldwork, the research station, but also law making, bureaucracy and armed surveillance are all important tools to understand nationalist will to territorialize nature. Bernhard Gissibl, Sabine Höhler & Patrick Kupper (eds.) Civilizing Nature: National Parks in Global Historical Perspective (New York & Oxford 2012). p.10-11.
 Lars Ottoson & Allan Sandberg, Generalstabskartan 1805-1979 (Stockholm 2001), p.30.
 The local historian Agge Theander has made a handmade map over the development of the road net surrounding the Kiruna region: Kiruna kommun, Kiruna: 100-årsboken. D. 1. (Kiruna 2000), s.133f. Before the road was built the inhabitants in the region used the railroad in all sorts of creative ways to satisfy the needs of travel and communication. The scheduled passenger traffic on the railroad was of course its basis. The locals used different forms of motor driven and rail bound communication such as rail busses. Torne Lake was also frequently used as means of communication with boat traffic. Margareta Redin & Birgitta Forssell, Nästan allt om Abisko (Abisko 2011), p.30-33.
 At the time it was planned and discussed it was called Transnational Road 98, (mellanriksväg 98). The 'European' prefix was added when Transnational Road 98 was bundled together with the road between Luleå and Kiruna as well as the Norwegian road from Å i Lofoten to Narvik, forming European Route 10 or E10.
 Redin & Forssell (2011), p.33.
 Billy Ehn & Jonas Frykman & Orvar Löfgren, Försvenskningen av Sverige (Stockholm 1993). In english: The
Swedization of Sweden.
 Sverker Sörlin, Framtidslandet: debatten om Norrland och naturresurserna under det industriella genombrottet (Umeå
1988), p.105-110. Sverker Sörlin has been an active writer of the region. He has also contributed in The Ore-Railroad
100 years which is a handy anthology concerning mostly the rail road track but also the Kiruna region in general.
Kjell Lundholm (ed.), Malmbanan 100 år (Luleå 1988).
 Björn Hettne, Sverker Sörlin & Uffe Östergård, Den globala nationalismen (Stockholm 2006). In eng: The Global Nationalism.
 Olle Hagman, Bilen, Naturen och det moderna: Om natursynens omvandlingar i det svenska bilsamhället (Stockholm 2000). In eng: The car, nature and the modern: The view of nature's change in Swedish automobile society.
 See also Cristof Mauch & Thomas Zeller (eds.), The World beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe (Athens 2008).
 A proto ideology is an underlying ideology. If modernisms’ goal is the progression of the human society, the right – left spectra of politics are only different pathways to that specific goal. For instance, Nazism and communism have a similar goal to create the perfect society. Their end-point gives similar results. However, their methods and political/philosophical ideology are different. In that sense their underlying ideology, or proto-ideology is modernism while the political pathways are ideological superstructures built on top of it. This will be further explained in chapter 2.
 Hagman (2001), p.47f.
 Per Lundin, Bilsamhället: Ideologi, expertis och regelskapande i efterkrigstidens Sverige (Stockholm 2008).
 May-Britt Öhman, “On Visible Places and Invisibilized Peoples: Swedish state-supported Hydropower Exploitation of Indigenous Peoples’ Territories”, in Enrico Baraldi, Hjalmar Fors & Anders Houltz (eds.), Taking Place: The Spatial Contexts of Science, Technology and Business (Sagamore Beach 2006). For more readings about Sami and Lapland’s colonization see: Daniel Lindmark “Colonial Encounter in Early Modern Sápmi”, in Magdalena Naum & Jonas M. Nordin (eds.), Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity: Small Time Agents in a global Arena (New York 2013).
 Lindmark (2013), p.133f. By describing Lapland as a purely Swedish realm the possibility of describing the process as imperial colonization is circumvented. Thus the ‘problem’ of the indigenous peoples becomes ‘invisibilized’
 Scott (1998), p.79-83, 309-316, 345-346.
 Birgitta Forssell & Margareta Redin, Nästan allt om Abisko (Abisko 2011). Agge Theander, Abisko turist station – de första hundra åren (Abisko 2002). In english: Almost everything about Abisko, Abisko tourist station – The first hundred years.
 Carl Gustaf Bernhard, Abisko Scientific Research Station (Stockholm 1989).
 Lennart Bäck & Christer Jonasson, Miljökonsekvensutvärderingar kring väg E10 mellan Kiruna och Riksgränsen
(Uppsala 1998). This EIAR consists of a whole array of theses from Uppsala University concerning all kinds of subjects
but mostly the environmental consequences of the road project and tourism in the Abisko – Björkliden – Riksgränsen region.