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Norden, nationen och historien: Perspektiv på föreningarna Nordens historieläroboksrevision 1919-1972
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (History and Education)
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Nordic National History : Perspectives on the Revision of History Textbooks by the Norden Associations, 1919-1972 (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation investigates the negotiation of history within the history textbook revision conducted by the Norden Associations between 1919 and 1972. The thesis combines an examination of the discussions surrounding the revision with an understanding of the organization of the revision process to study the negotiations between representatives of different historical cultures and the conditions within these historical cultures.  At the end of World War I, the teaching of history was challenged by internationalists and school­teachers as a chauvinistic and warmongering subject. The war was a catalyst for the emergence of history textbook revisions in general, and in the Nordic countries the war also became a catalyst for efforts to promote Nordic understanding and cooperation. These two outcomes of the war experience merged in the Norden Associations’ history textbook revision. The revision was promoted as both an effort to reach an agreement on a common Nordic history and an effort to present to the international community a peaceful corner of the world.  The theoretical framework of this dissertation draws on the concept of the nation as an imagined community and sees national historical cultures as being reflective of the community at that time and place. The discussions of historical events in the thesis are treated as motifs of a national myth, and they are scrutinized as part of the cognitive, political, and aesthetic dimensions of historical culture. The organizational features of the revision are studied through a network analysis of the organizational field.  Prior to World War II, involvement in the revision was reserved almost exclusively for historians. From the end of the 1950s, however, the initiative shifted towards teachers and teacher trainers. This dissertation shows that the revision was organized with an emphasis on national boundaries even though the revision itself was an effort to transcend these boundaries.  The results of this thesis show that the history within the revision was such an integral part of national identity that it was almost impossible to reach any understanding of a common Nordic history. Most motifs, such as the nation’s founding, liberation, golden age, and decline, within the individual national myths had very little common ground and they often contradicted each other. The debates in regards to historical events were also highly political. The historians involved in the revision process could not see past their own national context and were not able to approach the subject from a purely methodological or scientific stance. Pedagogical issues in the textbooks were almost completely ignored.  In conclusion, the history textbook revision conducted by the Norden Associations should probably be seen as a defense of nationalistic hegemony in the understanding of history and cultural identity instead of as a challenge to that hegemony. In addition, the decline in impact of the textbook revision in the 1960s can be explained as a result of this nationalistic identity giving way to the prosperity of a new hegemony that was more liberal, Eurocentric, and global.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2013. , 467 p.
Umeå studies in history and education, 7
Keyword [en]
Norden Associations, history, education, 20th century, historical culture, textbook revision, nationalism, myth, identity politics, hegemony, organization
Keyword [sv]
Föreningen Norden, historia, utbildning, 1900-talet, historiekultur, läroboksrevision, nationalism, myt, identitetspolitik, hegemoni, organisation
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66130ISBN: 978-91-87351-13-6OAI: diva2:618520
Public defence
2013-05-24, Humanisthuset, Hörsal F, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (Swedish)
Historia utan gräns: Den internationella historieboksrevisionen 1919-2009
Swedish Research Council, 2007-3419
Available from: 2013-05-03 Created: 2013-02-15 Last updated: 2014-11-14Bibliographically approved

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Åström Elmersjö, Henrik
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