Janken Myrdal


Janken Myrdal
janken.myrdal@slu.se (janken NULL.myrdal null@null slu NULL.se)
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Curriculum Vitae. Janken Myrdal

Date of Birth 1949 11 04- Citizenship Swedish

#Doctoral degree
1986 01 17 PhD, in Economic history, Stockholm University (SU). Thesis: Medieval Arable Farming in Sweden. Technical Change A.D. 1000-1520. Supervisor: Staffan Högberg

#Higher education degree
1974 BA (filosofie kandidat), SU (Economic History, Ethnology, Archaeology, Sociology)

1991 docent (Senior research fellow) in Economic History, SU

#Positions before 1994
+ Museum teacher Nordiska museet 1973-1976
+ Curator (“intendent”), Nordiska museet 1976-1981, 1985-86
+ PhD grant at the department of Economic History, Stockholm 1981-1985
+ Assistant professor at the department of Economic History, Stockholm 1986-1991
+ Curator / Scientific adviser, Nordiska museet, Stockholm 1991-1994

#Present position
+ Professor of Agrarian history, Department of economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), 1994-

#Positions beside the professorship, in Sweden
+ Commissioned researcher, Ministry of agriculture (Jordbruksdepartementet) 2000-2001
+ Part time research fellow at Economic history, SU 2012

#Guest professor/scholar outside Sweden
+ Invited guest professor: Urbana, Ill, USA: spring and fall 2002
+ Invited guest professor Aarhus, Denmark spring 2006.
+ Invited guest scholar, shorter periods: Edinburgh 1997, Urbana, Ill, USA 1999, Wageningen, Netherlands 2009

#PhD students
Economic history SU: Bo Franzen 1998
Agrarian history SLU: Iréne Flygare 1999, Ulrich Lange 2000; Håkan Slotte 2000; Lotta Leijonhufvud 2001; Örjan Kardell 2004; Niklas Cserhalmi 2005; Carin Israelsson 2005; Anna Dahlström 2006; Eva-Lotta Päiviö (2008), Jesper Larsson (2009); Pia Nilsson (2010); Alf Ericsson 2012.

1994- The Royal Gustav Adolf Academy (Gustav Adolfs akademien)
1995- The Royal Academy of Agricultural Sciences (KSLA)
1996- The Royal Patriotic Society
2006- The Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities;

+ The Royal Gustav Adolf Academy 1994, 1986
+ LRF (The farmers organisation) 1994
+ The Royal Patriotic Society, 1986
+ NBC (farmers organisations in the Nordic countries) 2001
+ Swedish Academy 2012


I have about 350 publications of which 250-300 can be considered as scholarly publications and the rest are popular publications (in newspapers and in publications for a general audience as Populär historia).

I consider counting the number of pages per year as an analytical tool to understand the research done by scholars in humanities and social sciences. Often this will give a more correct picture of endeavors and productivity than the number of articles. The reason is that a book of 250 pages obviously takes much more effort and work than an article of ten pages. A book is also often a more weighty contribution to research. Articles can condense already published books or they can precede books. Articles are absolutely a very important part of scholarly publishing, but in many cases, especially working with economic history, it is not enough to publish articles. A book allows the broad outlines and detailed descriptions.

Notice that I do not argue that the number of pages should be laid as a measure for distributing resources. If that happened we would get an immediate (and catastrophic) overproduction of pages, which would be even worse than the current overproduction of articles.

In the diagram below only scholarly publications have been included. Books I have edited are not included, as such. The number of pages attributed to me is only what I have produced, and thus if we are two authors only half of the pages in the article have been counted, etc. Over the last ten years I have had an average production of about 300 pages per year, which is quite much. Basically I have published one book a year, and in addition a number of articles and book chapters. The trend is increasing. The ratio published in English has, during these ten years, increased from about one third to half of the publication, which reflects a general trend among Swedish academics.

A small comment: the dip after I was appointed as professor in 1994 is typical, and I have found similar small decreases when I made diagrams for other scholars (in their Festschrifts) such as Johan Söderberg or Arne Jarrick. This further indicates that measuring pages is an interesting instrument to understand academic work. The reason for the dip is of course that a new professor has to organize his group, and I my case to build it.

Organizing research

During my whole vocation as a scholar I have organized research groups.

+ In my twenties I organized the group Folkets historia (People’s history), and a journal with the same name. We worked with what later came to be called history-from-below, and emphasized strongly the importance of quality research. Discussion and forming of theories should be totally free. In this group many now leading scholars in history and economic history in Sweden began their research. I got an award from the Swedish Academy 2012 mainly with reference to the work I did with this organization.

+ At Nordiska museet I organized a rather small research group around agriculture and the modern history of agriculture, we were half a dozen at most. I initiated a number of projects.

1/. One project consisted in collecting of farmer’s private archives from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is an important source, but was not used by economic historians. These diaries and account books were spread over the country in family and farm archives. I organized a project to have them copied and typed. We collected hundreds of them. Today this source is quite often used.

2./ Another was to collect memories from farmers about the technological change around the mid 20th century. This was funded with 1 M SEK by the farmer’s organization, LRF. Thousands of farmers took part in this project. It produced a mass of source material, now placed at regional museums. Research on agricultural change during the postwar period now has a base in this source. I also got awards from farmer’s organizations – both on a national and a Nordic level – for projects I had carried out.

3./ At Nordiska museet I started the project Det svenska jordbrukets historia (The Agrarian History of Sweden). It was funded with 7 M SEK from the private foundation Stiftelsen Lagersberg. We got a further 1.5 M SEK for publishing an abbreviated version in English.

+ I organized a national series of conferences and seminars at the Royal Academy of Forestry and Agriculture (KSLA), issuing a series of books, based on the seminars. These meetings became a venue for agrarian historians and other interested in these issues in all of Sweden. This also had the effect that the private foundation C. F. Lundströms stiftelse decided to donate 5 M SEK for a chair in Agrarian history. I was appointed to the chair in a rather tough competition (most of the applicants later became professors at universities in Uppsala, Gothenburg, Stockholm). C. F. Lundströms stiftelse continued to support Agrarian History at SLU with totally over the years a further 2.5 M SEK.

+ Basically I came into an empty room, without any collaborators in 1994, when I became professor of Agrarian history. I built both a group and an interdisciplinary discipline. Today the group consist of 10-15 doctoral students and post-docs. We have produced a number of books and articles and established education on several levels. The subject agrarian history of course existed before 1994, but it was only after that it became established as a discipline it was included in the formal system (national statistics at SCB, national library system, etc).

Of the PhD students 10 have been funded by different donors, and 2 have been funded by the university (SLU). Among the donors, besides Vetenskapsrådet, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond are also Riksantikvarieämbetet (National heritage) and even a private company: De Laval producing machinery for milk-production, and funding a research project on handling of milk cows in the 19th century. A number of post-docs have been linked to Agrarian history, and 6 got docentur. One of the post-docs spent 2 years in Indianapolis, with Elenor Ostrom, and is now back as forskarassistent (assistant professor) at the Section of Agrarian history.

+ As professor I was the main applicant and also organizer of a research school for museum curators. The project was funded 29 M SEK, mainly from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond with additional funding from Kgl. Vitterhetsakademien (11% of the funding). 12 PhD students defended their thesis in different disciplines. Other books were produced linked to the research school, as a further 5 M SEK came from Stiftelsen Lagersberg for side projects (one of the books was written by me, about medieval animal husbandry).

+ In the last years I have been the main organizer of a world history project funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (1.5 M SEK), organizing conferences. First I organized two workshops with Swedish historians, philosophers, archaeologist, etc. Now we have had three conferences on fiction, trade and source criticism in World History, all of them will be published. Linked to this project is also a project, led by Mats Widgren, professor of human geography, on the mapping of agricultural systems in world history.

Other information of interest
Besides the above mentioned I also been engaged in normal activity for a university professor, as: building up courses on base level; evaluation committees of different kinds, etc.