Contact person:
Pål Brunnström
  • Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Responsible at MaU:
Pål Brunnström
Project members at MaU:
Time frame:
01 September 2022 - 31 December 2023
Research subject:

Project description

The cotton industry played a key role in the industrialisation of Western Europe alongside with its pivotal role in colonialism on a world scale. Recent research show this role to be even more important than we have previously understood (Beckert 2014). The Swedish textile industry also played a key role during the early years of Swedish industrialisation, although in a different position in the international economy (Schön 1979). However, Sweden was not as un-associated to the colonial system as we might previously have imagined, but was firmly integrated and played the role of a “junior partner” to the dominant colonial powers (Lauesen 2021). Hence, recent research gives us good reason to re-visit the history of the Swedish textile industry and its international connections.

The aim of this research initiation project is to organise a workshop with Swedish and international researchers, focusing on the history of the Swedish textile industry and its international connections.

  • Firstly, the workshop will investigate the national and international networks providing technical equipment, key technicians and capital for the initial start-up phase of industrialisation.
  • A second theme is to investigate the supply chain for raw material – the cotton – and to what extent Swedish industries were integrated in the structures of ownership, production and transportation of cotton.
  • Thirdly, the workshop will investigate the impact of the industry on the cities and production centers where it was located.

Many of the early industries were dependent of hydropower and large quantities of water (with subsequent pollution, which today is a pressing issue surrounding textile industry in the global south) and located along rivers and lakes, places which are now located in the city centres. The textile industry had a large historical impact on urban development, and the legacy is still visible today. The workshop will be held in Malmö January 19-20, 2023.