Mats Widgren

Mats Widgren

Professor emeritus

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Arbetar vid Kulturgeografiska institutionen
Telefon 08-16 48 52
Besöksadress Svante Arrhenius väg 8
Rum X 401
Postadress Kulturgeografiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

魏麥思 (Chinese name)





Mapping global agricultural history -  Session at AAAS 2011:  Global Agricultural History: Mapping the Past for Modeling the Future

How the East was won: Towards an environmental history of the Eurasian steppe

Exploring precolonial agriculture and intensification: the case of Bokoni, South Africa (Swedish Research Links, Univ of Pretoria)

REAL – Resilience in East African Landscapes

People, Land and Time in Africa 




Kan man leva på en ödegård -- presentation på Bokmässan 2016

Forgotten World 2015

Det tämjda landskapet  2012 (Utbildningsradion)



In press

Widgren Mats:  Mapping Global Agricultural History: a map and a gazetteer for Sub-Saharan Africa by 1800 AD. In Mercuri, A.M., D'Andrea, A.C., Fornaciari, R., Höhn, A. (eds.): Plants and People in the African Past - Progress in African Archaeobotany (in press), SPRINGER  LINK TO MAP AND GIS-FILE




I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2017. Mats Widgren. Economic Development and Environmental History in the Anthropocene, 51-67
  • 2017. Mikael Bergius, Tor A. Benjaminsen, Mats Widgren. The Journal of Peasant Studies

    ‘Green economy’ is a broad concept open to different interpretations, definitions and practices ranging from the greening of current neoliberal economies to radical transformations of these economies. In Africa, one emerging and powerful idea in the implementation of the green economy seems to be to use a green agenda to further strengthen development as modernization through capital-intensive land investments. This has again reinvigorated old debates about large-scale versus smallholder agriculture. Influential actors justify large-scale ‘green’ investments by the urgency for economic development as well as to offset carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. In this contribution, we discuss the case of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) to give examples of how the green economy may materialize in Africa. SAGCOT is presented by the Tanzanian government as well as investors and donors as a leading African example of an ‘investment blueprint’ and as a laboratory to test green growth combining profitable farming with the safeguard of ecosystem services. In particular, we discuss three Scandinavian investments within SAGCOT, their social implications and their discursive representations through the public debates that these investments have generated in Scandinavia.

  • 2016. Mats Widgren. Methods in World History, 85-105
  • 2016. Hans Andersson, Mats Widgren.

    Is it possible to survive on a deserted farm: Manors, tenants and farming systems during the Middle Ages in the Lägerbo area, Östergötland. 

    This study approaches the late medieval farm desertion from a landscape perspective. It focuses on the area of a former medieval estate in southern Östergötland, Sweden. Based on a retrogressive analysis of cadastral maps and historical records the medieval settlement is reconstructed. In this process three formerly unknown deserted farms were identified, with abandoned field systems and building remains.  The volume provides the archaeological documentation of field systems and settlements at these sites. These data provide the background for investigating the shifting social and ecological circumstances that once made it possible for tenant families to survive on these farms. During the height of the manorial system the small farms were specialised units in a redistributive system. In the late 14th century the estate and all tenant farms were donated to the convents of Vadstena and Vreta.  Rents were no longer paid in labour but in butter.  In the fifteenth century several farms were abandoned and turned into meadows under the surviving farms. The new tenurial relations prevented the recolonization of the farms. The study is the result of an interdisciplinary project involving medieval archaeology, historical geography, palynology and medieval history.

  • 2016. Mats Widgren (et al.). Journal of African Archaeology 14 (1), 33-53

    Earlier work on the terraced settlements of the Bokoni area (16th to 19th century, Mpumalanga province, South Africa) focussed on the homesteads, their contents, layout and chronology. This paper suggests a terminology and typology of agrarian structures in Bokoni in order to improve comparative approaches in Africa and beyond. The typology and an excavation of the terracing have made possible preliminary conclusions relevant for the further analysis of the terracing and stone-walling in Bokoni. The terracing developed incrementally, whereby cultivation, stone-clearing and terracing were intermixed processes. This is supported both by the organic content in a section of a terrace and by a phytolith analysis. The phytolith analysis furthermore indicated that maize was cultivated on the terraces, but this should be seen as a pilot study only, and presence of maize in Bokoni must be tested with other archaeobotanical methods.

  • 2015. Mats Widgren. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift 69 (4), 197-206

    Widgren, M. 2015. Linking Nordic landscape geography and political ecology. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography Vol. 00, 00-00. ISSN 0029-1951. The article analyses and compares two schools of landscape research - post-war European landscape history and Nordic landscape geography - and compares them with political ecology. Each of them developed within a specific political, environmental, and intellectual context. European landscape history developed as curiosity-driven research, but in the shadow of previous ideological misuse of settlement history. Political ecology developed in the context of the Sahel crisis and provided a radical answer to Malthusian simplifications of the desertification and land degradation. In contrast to that, Nordic landscape geography grew as an intellectual critical reaction to a European situation in which post-productivist landscape policies were on the agenda. The article also speculates on challenges ahead and suggests that the epoch when we understand European landscapes mainly from a post-productivist standpoint may be over.

  • 2014. Mats Widgren. Azania 49 (4), 524-529

    This brief comment argues that the use of the term furrow system for locally developed irrigation in Eastern Africa is misleading in an international comparative perspective. It is at odds with the terminology in irrigation engineering and also with the archaeological terminology used outside Eastern Africa. Internationally, the term canal is used for the artificial watercourses that bring water from the source to the field, while furrow irrigation refers to one specific way of applying water to the individual field.

  • 2014. Mats Widgren. Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm University, 145-174
  • 2014. Mats Widgren. Medetlida storgårdar, 59-72
  • Bok (red) Landesque Capital
    2014. N. Thomas Håkansson, Mats Widgren.
Visa alla publikationer av Mats Widgren vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 26 oktober 2017

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