Seminar: Nationalism in the Nordic National Sciences

Workshop exploring and re-evaluating the hidden histories of national narratives in the humanities of the Nordic countries.

University of Helsinki, 2 - 3 September, 2019

Two-day workshop discussing the historical processes underlying how the academic disciplines of the humanities as well as cultural heritage archives in the Nordic countries long served only as a means of promoting the representative characteristics of the national (majority) and thus were as active mediators of the nation-state projects. On the global level, Nordic countries pioneered the study of folk culture as an academic discipline in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. Scholarly focus was on the culture of uneducated peasants and on the assumed homogeneity of the population in each of the Nordic countries. The endeavors to document rural folk culture resulted in large collections of material and led to the establishment of the national cultural heritage archives. Finnish Literature Society was established in 1831; The Institute for Language and Folklore in Sweden in 1870s; The Swedish Literature Society in Finland in 1885; The Danish Folklore Archives in 1904: the Norwegian Folklore Archives in 1914 and the Árni Magnússon-institute in Reykjavík in 1927. As the result of the longtime folklore collecting practices and the academic scholarship history, researchers became satisfied in examining their assumed one-culture societies and thus refused to see the gaps and silences that existed in their sources and interpretations. Questions of heterogeneous cultural identities, such as the resandefolket or the Sámi or even the gender boundaries, were long overlooked.

See program:  Nationalism in the Nordic National Sciences

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