Cultivating a sustainable society: attempts to change contemporary Sweden by urban gardening and theatre

Nina Gren, Hanna Wittrock

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In this presentation, we discuss how projects use theatre and urban gardening as tools to handle and promote cultural diversity in Sweden. Our presentation build on data collected during the last decade in Malmö, a city characterised by immigration, super-diversity and a post-industrial economy. The projects we have studied are often short term and dependent on uncertain, external funding. The target groups of the projects are both ‘new Swedes’ i.e. immigrants and ‘old Swedes’ i.e. natives as the interaction and exchange between these are seen as vital for a sustainable future in social terms. The projects are typically permeated by ideals of equality, democracy and human encounters. It has however been confirmed through our research that the projects are, as a rule, equally distinguished by the imposition of perceived Swedish norms.

Despite the apparent differences between urban gardening and theatre, there are interesting similarities between the two. Both practices are seen as offering a possibility to cultivate a relationship with the Other and exchanging knowledge. Sustainability is key, both in the sense of environmental friendly practices and social integration. A sustainable way of life can also refer to spiritual well-being, perceived to be highly important not least due to the stress of post industrial economy and “project life”. While project life contributes to stress it is simultaneously seen a solution to the quandaries of society and an alternative way of life. We will show that the cultivation of a better self and a better society in gardening and theatre projects are intertwined.
Original languageSwedish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018 Aug 14
Event15th EASA Biennial Conference : Staying - Moving - Settling - Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 2018 Aug 142018 Aug 17


Conference15th EASA Biennial Conference
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Anthropology

Cite this