Den radioaktiva vetenskapen

Beredskapen mot kärnvapen och engagemanget för miljön i Sverige


  • Fredrik Bertilsson Kungliga tekniska högskolan



totalförsvar, beredskap, civilt försvar, miljö, vetenskap


Throughout the Cold War, there was an extensive production of ideas and knowledge around radioactivity as a social hazard. Previous research shows that there is a lack of knowledge about the relationship between the preparedness against nuclear weapons that was built up in Sweden from the 1950s onwards and the environmental commitment that took shape a few decades later. The aim of this article is to contribute new knowledge about these historical conditions by examining the radioactivity research conducted at the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment [Försvarets forskningsanstalt] (FOA). The exploration is focusing on a period during the 1960s and 1970s when questions about radioactivity in relation to nuclear weapons, nuclear power and the environment had a clear impact in Sweden. Swedish preparedness is usually associated with efforts to protect the human population. I show how animals, plants and other non-human life also became objects in defence research and the preparedness against radioactivity that the scientific work at FOA enabled. FOA was a Swedish governmental agency that provided scientific advice to the Swedish Total Defence. FOA operated at the intersection of military and civil science. The article is concerned with FOA’s ambitions and expressed interests. The primary empirical material consists of FOA publications. I focus on how radioactivity research was presented in Foatidningen that was published by FOA between 1963 and 2000.