Asta Vonderau, PhD, Researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Cold, Clouds, and Post-Extractive Technologies of Imagination in Sweden’s North

When in 2011 a world-leading IT company expressed its intention to build a mega data center in Luleå, this announcement immediately triggered various future scenarios, ranging from an anticipated new industrial era of digital mining to visions of Luleå being symbolically relocated from the national periphery to the center of the global cloud. Such anticipations or visions were shaped and supported by municipal planning and business management activities soon materializing in the form of building sites, official agreements, new markets and regional development strategies. Since the data center industry was an unknown to regional actors, and since the actual name and operations of the IT company involved were kept entirely secret, the planning and implementation of Project Gold – as the data center project was called locally – was as much driven by collective imaginaries as by hard facts or former experiences. My talk shows how imaginaries became influential for bringing the cloud industry to Luleå, and for shaping the anticipated time and space of a ‘post-extractive modernity’. More specifically, the paper will focus on socio-technical preconditions as well as concrete practices and styles – technologies of imagination – enabling those imaginaries.

All seminars in the series.