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Photo of Nina Gren

Nina Gren


Photo of Nina Gren

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


  • Nina Gren
  • Hanna Wittrock

Summary, in English

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.


  • Social Anthropology
  • Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)
  • Division of Fashion Studies

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Social Anthropology

Conference name

15th EASA Biennial Conference

Conference date

2018-08-14 - 2018-08-17

Conference place

Stockholm, Sweden




  • Cultivating Swedish-ness? Urban gardening and social inclusion among refugees