2017 Organisation and Management of Aid Other

Exporting Agrarian Expertise: Development Aid at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Its Predecessors, 1950-2009

Karl Bruno

This study is organized around the central institutions for the agrarian sciences in postwar Sweden: the Agricultural College (Lantbrukshögskolan), the Veterinary College (Veterinärhögskolan), and the College of Forestry (Skogshögskolan), which later merged to form the present-day Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, SLU).

The aim is to contribute to the history of science- and technology-driven agrarian development, situated in the context of the history of agricultural, forestry, and veterinary science. More specifically to analyze why and how Swedish agrarian experts engaged in postwar development work abroad. This historical study’s findings throw new light on formative episodes in Swedish rural development aid history.

Main findings

  • Aid, in the Swedish context, was bound up with institutional concerns over the future of agrarian expertise, but the expertise failed to reinvent itself as agrarian as well as bureaucratic contexts changed.
  • The experts that planned and implemented Swedish agrarian aid, though characterized by a strong attention to local environments, were caught up in a more general form of universalist thinking that made them ill-prepared to recognize the intrinsic connections between the natural and the social.
  • On a more general level, my dissertation thus also reads as a demonstration of what tends to happen when scientific rationality is efficaciously put to work in a new environment. Its effects then are often simultaneously productive and destructive.
This Development Dissertation Brief is a summary of Karl Bruno‘s doctoral dissertation in agrarian history, which he defended in June 2016.