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Elfenbenstornet under belägring: Legitimering och mobilisering av humaniora i Sverige 1937-1947
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Recently, there have been intense discussions about the humanities and their role in society. Internationally, as well as in a Swedish context, the humanities have been regarded to be in a state of crisis. However, these discussions usually demonstrate a lack of historical perspectives based on thorough empirical research. The notion of a crisis needs to be historicized.

In this study, a case is being examined where the relationship between science and society was renegotiated. In the context of World War II, a discourse has been identified in a borderland between science and politics through an analysis of Swedish journals and anthologies during the time period 1937-1947. Historical actors were then highlighting that the humanities faced several challenges. The study argues that these discussions should be regarded as parts of a renegotiation of the humanities’ social contract. In the context of the war and fundamental societal changes, there occurred a greater pressure than before to mobilize science socially in order to make science appear as a legitimate undertaking. For the humanities, such demands seemed to conflict with their scientific ethos. During the interwar period this ethos was often based on a norm that demanded the drawing of a strict boundary between science and politics. But if they did not mobilize socially, scholars risked getting blamed for being isolated in the so-called ‘ivory tower’. How the humanities could be effectively mobilized in order to satisfy the needs of society while still maintaining their legitimacy in a scientific context emerged as a fundamental problem with no clear solutions. Part of this problem was the exclusion of the humanities from politically hegemonic narratives of society’s development, in contrast to natural and social sciences. Reactions to specific historical experiences and distinct expectations for the future thus seem – at least on a discursive level – to have put the humanities in a state of marginalization as early as the time period examined in this thesis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 81 p.
Keyword [en]
humanities, crisis, legitimation, mobilization, ivory tower, Sweden, World War II, science, society, politics, narratives, expectations
Keyword [sv]
humaniora, kris, legitimering, mobilisering, elfenbenstorn, Sverige, andra världskriget, vetenskap, samhälle, politik, berättelser, förväntningar
National Category
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-226099OAI: diva2:723881
Available from: 2014-06-11 Created: 2014-06-11 Last updated: 2014-06-11Bibliographically approved

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