The 11th of October 2016 marks a century since the Swedish geographer Torsten Hägerstrand was born. Hägerstrand is one of the most celebrated Nordic social scientists of the 20th century and he has greatly influenced the development of a broad range of research areas.

While his importance for “the quantitative turn” in human geography is generally acknowledged, his role as a geo-philosopher and landscape scholar has largely been disregarded internationally, partly due to the fact that some key publications are still only available in Swedish.

Crucial importance in landscape studies
As a strong advocate of interdisciplinary research, Hägerstrand brought forward the landscape as an integrative concept. His focus on landscape and place in the 1990s and 2000s was also an attempt to draw attention to the often taken for granted materiality of the inhabited world, its implications for an ecological understanding of our everyday environment, and for a sustainable development. These ideas have been of crucial importance in Swedish landscape studies during the recent 20 years, but still they have not been the central theme of an interdisciplinary symposium.

Therefore, an international symposium to commemorate Torsten Hägerstrand’s work was held on his 100th birthday with a particular focus on his importance as a geo-philosopher in general, and as a landscape scholar in particular. The aim was to address how his ideas can contribute to future research and the development towards a sustainable society. Inspired by the research of Hägerstrand, the symposium aimed for an interdisciplinary, philosophical, innovative, and playful symposium.


  • 9.00–9.30 Introduction, Anders Wästfelt, Stockholm University
  • 9.30–10.10 Hägerstrand as historian, Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH
  • 10.10–10.40 Beyond the map: Landscape as graveyard and cradle of creation, Anne Buttimer, University College Dublin (video)
  • 10.40–11.00 Coffee
  • 11.00–11.40 Changing power of geographical competencies: National parks as experiments for a multifunctional and sustainable use of landscapes, Jesper Brandt, Roskilde University
  • 11.40–12.20 The landscape of Hägerstrand – Between the hard natural sciences and the loftiness of the humanities, Tomas Germundsson & Carl Johan Sanglert, Lund University
  • 12.20–13.30 Lunch break
  • 13.30–14.10 Are people part of landscape dynamics?, Helen Couclelis, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • 14.20–15.00 Diagramming the social: Hägerstrand’s legacy to contemporary human geography, Alan Latham, University College London
  • 15.00–15.30 Coffee
  • 15.30–16.10 Returning to landscape, Tim Schwanen, University of Oxford
  • 16.20–17.00 Connecting global change and local dynamics: Hägerstrand’s contributions to the challenges of this century, Stefan Anderberg, Linköping University

The event was open for the public and free of charge.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities was the main sponsor for the symposium.


  • Stefan Anderberg, Department of Management and Engineering / Environmental Technology and Management, Linköping University.
  • Mattias Qviström, Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Anders Wästfelt, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University.