A societal history of potato knowledge in Sweden c. 1650–1800

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This article concerns the societal history of potato knowledge in early modern Sweden. Focusing on the communication process, it analyses when, how, why, and which type of knowledge of the potato was communicated and ultimately experienced a societal breakthrough in early modern Sweden. The article shows that knowledge of the potato was transformed as it crossed social, spatial, and media boundaries. The breakthrough–which only came in 1749–50–was not the result of a linear, cumulative diffusion process dating from the initial knowledge intervention in the 1650s; instead, it was the result of a particular knowledge network, long devoted to promoting the potato, finally gaining influence over important knowledge institutions, thus making mass communication possible. In the 1720s and 1730s, this network had redefined the potato in the context of agriculture and especially in relation to the phenomenon of famine and crop failure. In the subsequent period, this revised knowledge became increasingly relevant to Swedish society, as the elite became ever more concerned with food security, population policy, and agricultural and fiscal reforms. Finally, following a severe crop failure in the 1740s, political support for a broad knowledge intervention was secured.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Historia


Sidor (från-till)42-62
Antal sidor21
TidskriftScandinavian Journal of History
Utgåva nummer1
StatusPublished - 2021
Peer review utfördJa


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Erik Bodensten

Swedish Research Council


Projekt: ForskningIndividuellt forskningsprojekt

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