Our society’s combined dependence on technologies and resources  

I am interested in how natural resources are transformed in societal processes (i.e. extracted, used, stored, wasted, recycled and re-used), and the intricate relationship between such resources and the technological systems and devices that we are intrinsically dependent on.

Urban Mining – Derelict Infrastructure as a Resource Base

The name of my dissertation was The Urk World – Hibernating Infrastructure and the Quest for Urban Mining, in which I investigated the material remains of derelict urban infrastructures. I coined the term “urk” to denote disconnected infrastructure parts, and “The Urk World” to denote the subsurface strata of cities in which urks accumulate. I investigated this subsurface underworld as a geo-social formation, and made use of a combination of environmental systems analysis and infrastructure studies/STS to analyze how it emerged as an infrastructural phenomenon, its political relevance, and how it could potentially be recycled due to its high concentrations of metals with resulting environmental benefits.

Documentary about my dissertation project on the French TV channel France 24



Swedish Mining Politics From the Early 1990’s Until Today

As a postdoc, I work in a contemporary history project concerning the reconfiguation of Swedish mining politics since the early 1990’s, and do research in the form of two case studies. The first is an investigation into the highly contested plans to establish a lime quarry in the Ojnare forest on Gotland, and I and my colleagues study the formation of actor coalitions around conflict lines that extend well into the state apparatus. The second ongoing case study is an inquiry into the operations of the national Swedish mining resistance group “Urbergsgruppen”, and how they perform environmentally aware citizen subjects when they act and react in processes related to mining establishments.



The Urk World: Hibernating Infrastructures and the Quest for Urban Mining

Authors: Björn Wallsten

Publ 2015
Type Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary
To publication

Urks and the Urban Subsurface as Geosocial Formation

Authors: Björn Wallsten, Joakim Krook

Publ 2016
Type Article in journal
To publication



Simon Haikola, Jonas Anshelm, Björn Wallsten

Politicizing environmental governance: A case study of heterogeneous alliances and juridical struggles around the Ojnare Forest, Sweden

In Geoforum

Article in journal




CV in short

PostDoc, Tema Technology and social change,  Linköping University

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Systems Analysis & Environmental
Management, Linköping University, Sweden. Dissertation: The Urk World –
Hibernating Infrastructures and the Quest for Urban Mining.


I currently teach in history of technology and infrastructures studies at the following courses:

  • Teknikhistoria 
  • Teknik 

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