Collage av människa läsandes i bibliotek, bokhyllor och sittytor.

History of ideas

People are not only affected by the way the world is, but perhaps even more by how we and others imagine it to be. We have inherited many conceptions from the past without us being even being aware of it. Scientific discoveries, political ideas and philosophical theories that were once controversial have become things we take for granted. Where do they come from? What do they me? What were the alternatives?

Research in the History of Ideas at Södertörn University has, since it started in 1997, primarily focused on the the development of ideas in the 20th century, and mainly on political thought in a broad sense.

One example is the project Kritiskt tänkande för en pluralistisk högskola (Critical thinking for pluralistic higher education) which covers problems associated with the expansion of higher education. A couple of other examples are the issue of how journalist training has evolved in Sweden, as well as how views on abortion have changed in the latter half of the 20th century.

Even if Swedish contemporary history comprises a significant proportion of the research in the History of Ideas at Södertörn University, a considerable amount of research has also focused on the history of ideas in the Baltic Sea region. One example is the project Öster om Kosmopolis: Världsmedborgaren och den papperslösa paradoxen (East of Cosmopolis: The World Citizen and the Paperless Paradox) which links to contemporary themes by taking up the situation of paperless people from the perspective of the history of ideas.

Another project with a Baltic focus is Kroppen som gåva, vara eller resurs? Organtransplantationer i Östersjöområdet (The Body as a Gift, Good or Resource? Organ Transplants in the Baltic Sea Region) in which a researcher from the subject is participating. During the past year, the subject’s research focus has been supplemented by research into geopolitical issues. Issues of how a national identity can be constructed also belong here, as do how conceptions of other nations – in this case, conceptions of Sweden in the US – can develop and become established. Another research focus is the political-philosophical history of ideas from the later 18th century to the present day.

Third stream activities

The History of Ideas is a subject that has an important role in understanding our own time and the processes taking place in society. It is therefore important to disseminating knowledge gained from our research outside academia, and we have seen it as something of a duty to share this knowledge when it comes to the History of Ideas at Södertörn University.

Our teaching staff and researchers write popular science articles, hold lectures and participate in debates in a wide range of contexts. Many of our teaching staff also work with book publishers, and numerous book projects have been completed within the subject’s boundaries. Several have also participated in enquiries or in expert groups.


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Page updated

22-03-2019