Koppardalen : Om historiens plats i omvandlingen av ett industriområde

Sammanfattning: The empirical focus of this study is the contemporary transition of the industrial area Koppardalen, situated in Avesta in the middle of Sweden. Koppardalen (literary translated “The Copper Valley”) got its name in 1987 when the Avesta municipality bought the area from an iron and steel company. For a century the Koppardalen area, or Norra verken which was its name before 1987, housed production of iron and steel and at its peak employed more than 2000 men. In the beginning of the 1980s, iron and steel production had moved out and left the area almost abandoned. When the Avesta municipality became the new owner of Koppardalen it was part of a strategy to transform the area to make it more attractive to light industry and by doing so provide Avesta with new employment opportunities. These plans failed and what happened instead is the object of my analysis. The overall purpose of the thesis is to describe and analyse the place of history in the transition process of the Koppardalen industrial area between 1987 and 2003. More specifically, the aim is to answer the two questions: What does the place of history look like? What does the place of history mean? My basic theoretical inspiration comes from the French philosopher and critical hermeneuticer Paul Ricoeur and his reasoning about the logic of explanation and understanding. As an operative theoretical tool I use four fundamental historical tropes in order to analyse the place of history in the transition process. I have chosen three physical and clearly visible changes in Koppardalen that each constitute one chapter in the study. The first change concerns the old blast furnace, which has been renovated and used for art exhibitions, museum installations and other cultural purposes. The second change concerns two former rolling mills, which have been partly torn down and partly rebuilt into a sports arena and office spaces. The third change concerns a new built bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists that connects the Koppardalen area with Avesta city centre. These two parts had earlier been separated from each other, physically as well as mentally. By analysing these three changes I conclude that the most dominant historical trope to be found in Koppardalen is the story about “the foreign country”. The past becomes a different and thrilling contrast that could be used in the effort to make the former industrial area a beautiful, interesting and attractive place. Beside the trope of the foreign country, the story of similarity through history is also present in Koppardalen. Here, the past is compared with today’s situation and periods of change in the past are put into parallel with contemporary challenges of the post-industrial society. Both these tropes, the one of history as a foreign country and the one of history as a parallel of today, paradoxically strengthen the transition process and the power of those actors who work to transform the Koppardalen area. One surprising element is the lack of the historical trope of a lost golden age. The proud and prosperous past in the sense of a lost golden age is not to be found in Koppardalen, or at least not in the rhetoric of the politicians and white-collar workers who are the driving forces in the process. In sum, the study shows how the place of history in a contemporary transition process contains a great variety of simultaneously occurring, non-competing historical tropes.