Professor L. Anders Sandberg comes from the fertile regions of Lakes Mälaren and Hjälmaren in Södermanland and Västmanland in what is now known as the nation state of Sweden. Sandberg’s ancestors come from the generations of farmers, tenant farmers, soldier farmers, cottagers, coachmen, and handicraft people who worked among and for the farm estates of the royalty and nobility who owned and controlled most of the land in the region. He loves to spend time in the lands that have been shaped and used by his ancestors yet resents the conditions under which they had to labour and exist, including a tax system based on labour, produce, and money tributes that sustained a class society, military service provisions that yielded death and the waste of resources in meaningless wars, and church provisions that classified children born out of wedlock as “illegitimate” and their parents as “criminals.” His relatives were uprooted from the soil to become wage earners in industry and services in the cities, as servers, nurses, roadworkers, store clerks, and small entrepreneurs, who all fought hard to collectively and individually improve working conditions and welfare. Through western imperialism, they were also, especially the men, rewarded by the racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination that prevailed at the time. He harbours suspicions against his own positionality within these authority systems that date back many generations. He also brings a similar suspicious approach to all his academic research endeavours.
Sandberg came to Canada on a swimming scholarship to pursue a bachelor’s degree in geography at Simon Fraser University. He then pursued graduate degrees at the Universities of Victoria and McGill. His major areas of research include political economy and ecology of resource management, forest, environmental, and conservation history, as well as Canadian, Scandinavian, and Maritime studies. One of his early co-authored books, Against the Grain: Foresters and Politics in Nova Scotia won the Clio Award (Atlantic) on regional history in the Maritimes by the Canadian Historical Association.
Other books he has completed include Climate Change -- Who's Carrying the Burden? The Chilly Climates of the Global Environmental Dilemma (co-edited with Tor Sandberg) that draws attention to the disparity between climate change and social justice concerns that deeply affect marginalized communities. With Professors Gerda Wekerle and Liette Gilbert he co-authored the book The Oak Ridges Moraine Battles: Development, Sprawl, and Nature Conservation in the Toronto Region. The book provides a multi-faceted history and policy analysis of planning issues and citizen activism on the Moraine’s future in the face of rapid urban change. He is currently completing an article that features the property development and aggregate industries in the Ontario Greenbelt with Gerda Wekerle and Don Leffers. With Jennifer Foster, he co-edited Post-Industrial Urban Greenspace: An Environmental Justice Perspective. And with FES alumni, Jocelyn Thorpe and Stephanie Rutherford, he co-edited Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research, examining the challenges and possibilities of conducting cultural environmental history research.
For some time, Sandberg has conducted an Alternative Campus Tour on the York University campus. "It serves as a pedagogical tool to engage students and community members to critically examine different campus sites," says Sandberg. "This participatory learning process gives students the opportunity to explore and contest how the campus space is or could be used by members of the university community," he adds.
In one year, the Alternative Campus Tour featured the longstanding relationships of Indigenous People with the university campus. Walkers who participated on the tour reflected on the responsibilities of being in the treaty territory known as the Dish with One Spoon. Led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous guides, the tour visited the Inuit sculpture, Aquahizu, the Centre for Aboriginal Student Support, the Indigenous home Skennen’kó:wa Gamig, and the site of a Huron-Wendat village near Black Creek south of the University.
In a recent academic article, On Narrative and the Huron-Wendat Ancestral Village at York University, Toronto, Canada, Sandberg with his co-authors, among them the research director of the Huron-Wendat Nation, provide an in-depth analysis of archaeologists’ narratives on the village. The village provides an illustration on the past interpretations of an Indigenous ancestral site as well as the potential future role of archaeology, history, and Indigenous scholarship in recognizing the village’s sacredness, living nature and connection to kinship and ancestors.
Sandberg recently served as co-editor with place-maker and award-winning author Jay Pitter on her publication Engaging Black People and Power, a public engagement and urban policy primer. The primer features several Black activists and student writers and is a call to action addressing urban planning policy and anti-Black racism. When a student in the faculty, Sandberg served as Pitter’s supervisor.
L. Anders Sandberg is Professor at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. His research and teachings focus on political ecology, environmental history, pedagogies of space and place, climate and environmental justice, sustainability and social democracy. He received the Dean's Teaching Award in recognition of his outstanding and innovative teaching practices and was a semi-finalist in TV Ontario's Best Lecturer competition.