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New International Histories, New Narratives and Canons? Cases and Perspectives through Nordic History

A Research Workshop with a key note by Susanna Erlandsson (Uppsala University) followed by a panel discussion with Margaret Hunt (SCAS), Norbert Götz (Södertörn University) and Johanna Rainio-Niemi (University of Helsinki / ReNEW Senior Visiting Researcher in Södertörn 2021-22)

Approaches to international and foreign policy histories are in flux. This workshop addresses the ongoing paradigmatic and methodological transformations of scholarship through Nordic cases and perspectives. What are the implications for the study of the key concepts, institutions and actors of international and foreign policy history? How do the new readings resonate across the established narratives and notions of small state ‘exceptionalism’, including key themes such as neutrality and its histories?

The key note speaker of the workshop is Susanna Erlandsson (Uppsala University). The key note “Redefining the world: perspectives on power and practices in the history of international relations” (abstract in below) will be followed by a panel discussion with Margaret Hunt (Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies), Norbert Götz (Södertörn University) and Johanna Rainio-Niemi (University of Helsinki). The keynote session takes place at 12.30-14.00 and is open to the public on-line. To receive a link to the event, please pre-register your participation by 16 December 2021 at oscar.nygren(at) Welcome!


08.30 – 09.00 Arrival and coffee

09.00 – 09.15 Opening

09.15– 11.30 Sessions I-II (incl. Aryo Makko (SU); Norbert Götz (SH); Pasi Ihalainen (University of Jyväskylä); Johanna Rainio-Niemi (Helsinki))

11.30-12.30 Lunch

12.30-14.00 Key note by Susanna Erlandsson (UU) followed by a panel discussion with Margaret Hunt (UU), Norbert Götz (SH) and Johanna Rainio-Niemi

14.00-14.30 Coffee break

14.30-16.30 Session III with papers and comments (Emma Rosengren (SU); Andreas Åkerlund (SH); Oscar Nygren (SH))

16.30-17.30 Closing words and reception

Registration and contact: due to the covid-19 situation, on-site participation is limited. Keynote session is open to the wider public on-line. For registration and other inquiries on participation options, please contact oscar.nygren(at)

Organisers: the Institute of Contemporary History (Södertörn University); the Faculty of Social Sciences/Political History (University of Helsinki); ReNEW (Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World)/NordForsk and NOS-HS Exploratory Workshop Funds / Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for Humanities and Social Sciences/Academy of Finland.

Key Note by Susanna Erlandsson

Susanna Erlandsson (Uppsala University)

Redefining the world: perspectives on power and practices in the history of international relations

17 December 2021, Södertörn University, at 12.30-14.00. Link: TBA


In the past decades, the field of international history has changed. Historians and political scientists have challenged the primacy of the national perspective, narratives centring on state officials, and perceptions of diplomacy and international political thought as male-dominated matters. Changing conceptual frameworks and attention for previously overlooked actors and underused empirical materials have brought new ways of thinking about power and historical explanation. This keynote invites a discussion of how these shifts influence the way we write the history of international relations and, by extension, the way we view the world and what this means in terms of established narratives as well as new canons and research agendas. In particular, do new perspectives spell an inevitable fragmentation of the field, or can the old and new be fruitfully combined? Based on her own trajectory, moving from the comparative study of national foreign policies on a government level to a gendered perspective on the political importance of everyday diplomatic culture, to her current interest in what servants and daily hierarchies in the diplomatic household reveal about transnational systemic racism, Susanna Erlandsson shares why and how shifts in perspective have shaped her research and with what results.

Susanna Erlandsson is the editor of the Swedish historical journal Historisk tidskrift and a historical researcher at Uppsala University. She wrote the award-winning dissertation Window of opportunity. Dutch and Swedish security ideas and strategies 1942–1948 (Uppsala 2015). In February 2022, Bloomsbury Academic is publishing her new book Personal Politics in the Postwar World: Western Diplomacy Behind the Scenes. She recently received funding for her next project, “The Downstairs of Diplomacy: A Transnational History of Servants’ Roles in Foreign Relations (c. 1935–1965)”.

Time and place

17 December 2021, 08:30-17:15


Södertörn University, Building F-II , find us


Arranged by

Samtidshistoriska institutet och ReNew



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