The downside

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Market day in Lund

Apartment in a Lund suburb

Santiago Calatrava's twisting apartment tower under construction in Malmö

New apartment buildings in Malmö

Many people -- though not all -- strongly assert that there is something special about Lund. They call it the Lund spirit. Every town has its own melody, perhaps even Malmö has one. . . . Those who possess the Lund spirit are said to have very special qualities: an ironic distance to everything, including themselves and Lund, a barb to deflate pompous self-importance. Mårtensson 1990, 9

Deploying that skeptical spirit, we can ask: what is the downside at Lund? There are those long dark Swedish winters. Graduate students say the university doesn't provide too much of a life style, and faculty life looks as committee-burdened and competitive as elsewhere, and maybe more so since most positions are on soft money. Also, the Nordic countries are retreating from their social democratic past, and social tensions are increasing. But these are general worries, what about Lund in particular?

The major negative is precisely the positive: Lund feels complete. So some students and faculty are moving to Malmö, because Lund lacks an open edge. It's not just that there are more cultural and entertainment venues in Malmö, more adventuresome art and a new university and a new public library, but that the larger city has an unfinished, rougher texture. Malmö is struggling to remake itself after the loss of its heavy industries to global competition. It has more diversity, larger downtown shopping areas, a more explicit immigrant presence. It is less picturesque: some parts are quite gritty and there's much more neon. The manageability and charm of Lund may weary the young and adventurous, or others who seek more complexly interacting ways of life. The quotation above expresses Lund's disdain for Malmö: "Every town has its own melody, perhaps even Malmö has one." Maybe what attracts some to Malmö is that it has more than one melody, or an unfinished score.