Political history

Global and social problems are primarily resolved in the sphere of politics, and the tension between the past and the future is crucial for contemporary changes. Political history provides the tools to understand and critically assess many contemporary problems and changes.
Description of the discipline

Because political history is a historical and social scientific discipline, it takes a much broader view of politics than the traditional state-centred approaches. This view encompasses civic society, media and various organised and unorganised forces and movements.

Political history explores changing economic, social and cultural structures as prerequisites and targets of policy. Another important topic is the political handling and use of history. The examination of international relations extends from foreign policy, diplomacy and wars to changes in the international system, globalisation and European integration as well as non-governmental transnational players.

Teaching and research in political history develop approaches based on social science history in collaboration with the discipline of economic and social history.

Research profile

Current research focuses on the following:

  • The development of nation states, civil society and social movements
  • The formation of the welfare state
  • The politics of gender
  • The politics of memory and the political use of history
  • The Cold War and subsequent international system
  • Security issues related to globalisation and European integration as well as cross-border mobility
Research projects

The discipline of political history has several ongoing research projects.

  • Juhana Aunesluoma: BALTRANS: The Baltic Sea Region and the Post-Cold War Hysteresis. Security conceptions and practices in transition

  • Johanna Rainio-Niemi: Just Recovery from COVID-19? Fundamental Rights, Legitimate Governance and Lessons Learnt 

  • Jukka Kortti: The Narratives of Finland. Historical Culture, the Arts and Changing Nationality

  • Heikki Haara: Desire for Esteem and Sociability in Seventeenth-Century Political Thought

Study opportunities

Political history can be studied in the Bachelor’s and Master’s Programmes in Society and Change (in Finnish). For the first two years, students pursue the studies available to all in four disciplines: economic and social history, development studies and social and cultural anthropology in addition to political history. During the third year, students divide along discipline-specific study tracks. The Master’s Programme in Society and Change focuses on discipline-specific studies. The degree programmes continue the long-standing and solid cooperation in social science history between the disciplines of political history and economic and social history.

Degree programmes that offer teaching in political history
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Discipline coordinator: Professor Juhana Aunesluoma

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PO Box 54 (Snellmaninkatu 14 A)

00014 University of Helsinki

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