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Environing Technology: Swedish Satellite Remote Sensing in the Making of Environment 1969–2001
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The state-owned Swedish Space Corporation established a satellite remote sensing infrastructure and defined uses for the technology both within and beyond Sweden during the latter part of the twentieth century. This thesis studies Swedish satellite remote sensing as an environing technology – a technology that environs, that produces environments and our perceptions of the environment. This perspective is important in historicising Sweden’s role in developing a technology that now is used both to manage environments on a global scale and to provide an understanding of what the environment is. It is also important to understand these environing activities as motivated by and related to other aims, for example Swedish non-alignment, development aid, and the export of expertise to new markets. I ask two questions. Firstly, how did Swedish satellite remote sensing activities contribute to the making of environment? Secondly, why did the Swedish satellite remote sensing experts conduct these activities?

Studying environing technologies requires combining the theoretical understandings of history of technology and environmental history and treats technology and environment as outcomes of environing activities. Methodologically, the thesis studies written and oral sources to find activities related to satellite remote sensing that take part in sensing, writing about, or shaping environments. From these activities, new understandings of technology and environment emerge over time.

The thesis is structured around five empirical chapters: 1) the institutionalisation of remote sensing as part of environmental diplomacy in Sweden, 1969–1978; 2) the establishment and expansion of a French-Swedish remote sensing infrastructure, showcased by sensing the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986; 3) the export of Swedish technoscientific expertise as a form of development aid, 1983–1994; 4) the promotion of satellites as a tool for sustainable development, 1987–1993; and 5) the establishment of an environmental data centre to monitor the European environment as part of managing the expansion of the European Union, 1991–1999.

Swedish satellite remote sensing experts contributed to numerous international demonstrations that emphasised the technology as a tool for sustainable development of environments on a global scale. These activities beyond Sweden, often through transnational collaborations, were undertaken to establish satellite remote sensing within Sweden. The lack of a long-term strategy for the Swedish government’s space activities forced the technoscientific experts to find ad hoc uses for their technology, of which environmental applications were the most significant.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2019. , p. 392
Series
TRITA-ABE-DLT ; 195
Series
Stockholm Papers in the History and Philosophy of Technology, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 195
Keywords [en]
COPUOS, environing, environmental diplomacy, infrastructure, satellite remote sensing, SPOT, Spot Image, sustainable development, Sweden, Swedish Space Corporation
National Category
History of Technology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-246186ISBN: 978-91-7873-126-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-246186DiVA, id: diva2:1296384
Public defence
2019-04-05, F3-Lecture Hall, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20190315

Available from: 2019-03-15 Created: 2019-03-15 Last updated: 2019-06-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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