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The lupine’s dark shadow – Invasive species, environmental threats and the othering of flowers in SWEDEN

Event Type
academic, cultural heritage, invasive species
Co-sponsored by the European Union Center and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP)
Forbes Building, room 1005, 1816 S Oak St, Champaign, IL 61820
Nov 27, 2018   4:00 pm  
Dr. Mattias Frihammar, Dr. Lars Kaijser, Dr. Frederick Krohn-Andersson, and Dr. Maja Lagerqvist, all from Stockholm University
Free and Open to the Public
Helaine Silverman
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events

Mattias Frihammar, Lars Kaijser and Maja Lagerqvist, all from Stockholm University, are currently developing a research project on so-called “invasive species.” When there are no so-called natural enemies in the new environment, invasive species can massively expand. For their example they are working on the flower, lupine, which is regarded as invasive.


The lupine came to Sweden from North America in the first half of the 19th century as a garden plant, but it has made a conceptual trajectory. What was then a beautiful and possibly useful flower is now seen as an alien element in the Swedish flora, and authorities and local groups work to limit its spread. A wide range of actors (different authorities, environmental organizations, private persons) are engaged in the elimination of lupines in Sweden. Swedes are fighting the lupines through the active weeding of the plant, and also through cultural arguments rooted in ideas of a typical Swedish nature.

This talk focuses on the municipality of Dalarna (Dalecarlia), where the authorities have been extra active in a war on lupines. On their website, in pamphlets and at official meetings, the municipal authorities describe lupines as dangerous intruders, which out-conquer other plants, threaten natural heritage, and spoil the traditional cultural environment. A challenge for the authorities has been the fact that people in general find lupines beautiful and appealing. This analysis reassesses the lupine as unwanted. Applying the concept of assemblage, the (new) status of the lupine as a dangerous and ugly feature in the landscape is re-interpreted as a (possible) effect of relations between species, other objects, emotions and different spirits of the times.


These colleagues are available for conversation any time on November 27 prior to their talk. Email them at:;

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