The road in the park: Abstract


Check out my award winning master of arts thesis here:

”Från ett regionalvetenskapligt plan visar författaren på ett maktperspektiv och en tydlig relevans av ett historiskt djup i problematiseringen av idag förgivet tagna normer. Frågorna ger mersmak och bidrar till följdfrågor, också för andra regioners processer. Dagsaktuella frågor som sätter lokala intressen mot nationella kan också genom detta perspektiv belysas. Bennesved visar med sin innovativa och övertygande studie att hans fokus leder vidare också i framtida frågor rörande platsskapande, makt och identitet”

– CERUM, Gösta Skoglunds uppsatsstipendium (

The Road in the Park
Maps, Landscape & State Power in Norrland, 1881-1974


Peter Bennesved


The scope of this thesis is to show how the use of maps in political and scientific arguments functions as a mediator between ideological discourse and the physical landscape. This is done by studying three maps displaying the same geographical region but from different times and with different motifs. The maps were studied by operationalizing the French Sociologist Bruno Latour’s concept of immutable mobiles into a methodological toolset.

The thesis shows that the cartographic tradition of the Swedish state throughout the 20th century functioned as an immutable mobile that ideological actors could use to form political or scientific arguments. An almost trivial point to make. However, the problem is the great distance between state and the place, which in this case is about 1400 kilometers. Thus, the map allows a remote power relationship. As the state-owned immutable mobiles were extracted, they were interpreted by the politicians and scientists ideological perspectives. The ideological interpretations were then used in government propositions and reports and thus resulted in actual political decisions that affected the physical landscape.

The creation of Abisko National Park is one example of how this process can look. The park was instigated with a specific set of political goals to be achieved. The political and scientific actors used the immutable mobile that is the map and formed a proposition with it. The act of instigating and upholding the Abisko Valley as a national park is thus a manifestation of both state presence, its supremacy over territory as well as its contemporary ideological context. Moreover, it would be impossible to instigate a park without the use of maps to define its borders. The planning and ratification of Transnational Road 98 can be seen as another example of the same thing, but with a different contemporary ideology as background.

The thesis results in an explanation about what the maps role is in a stately place making process. Additionally the thesis shows what happens over time as different ideological embodiments in the landscape conflict with each other because of their different visions of how the landscape should be used and by whom.