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The Norden Associations and International Efforts to Change History Education, 1919–1970: International Organisations, Education, and Hegemonic Nationalism
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (History and Education)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4500-5502
2015 (English)In: Paedagogica historica, ISSN 0030-9230, E-ISSN 1477-674X, Vol. 51, no 6, 727-743 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the interwar period, a number of organisations started to look into education as part of an attempt to understand how nationalism was fuelled through education and to what extent it had forced the outbreak of the Great War. These efforts coincided with a more general internationalisation of educational systems as part of the progressive movement. In response to nationalism and a perceived need for reformation of national narratives, the school subjects of history and geography became the primary suspects as advocates of chauvinism and militarism. In 1919, associations for the promotion of understanding and cooperation between the Scandinavian countries – the Norden Associations [föreningarna Norden] – began investigating history textbooks. The notion behind these efforts was that the Scandinavian peoples had especially strong natural and historical bonds that a false nationalism had eradicated, and in the zeitgeist of the time such bonds should be resurrected. This revision of textbooks was expanded in the 1930s to explore, assess, and develop the entire teaching of history in the Nordic countries. The Norden Associations converged on many levels with the disparate international movements for educational change that, in a broader sense, led to standardisation of not only history education, but also the whole educational system. This article presents the Norden Associations as part of a process of hegemonic isomorphism in which cultural hegemony set the institutional boundaries within which the organizations could work in order to attain legitimacy. The network of educators, researchers, organisations, and politicians that was involved in this process was vast. This article demonstrates how an organisation with a specific political agenda, and with only limited international objectives came to be – not only a part of – but, to some extent, an organisational role model for loftier efforts aimed at global and cosmopolitan history teachings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015. Vol. 51, no 6, 727-743 p.
Keyword [en]
Norden Association, Scandinavia, interwar period, education, internationalisation, organisational field, textbooks
National Category
History Educational Sciences
Research subject
history of education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-98923DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2015.1013560ISI: 000364764500006OAI: diva2:789729
Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-01-28 Last updated: 2015-12-14Bibliographically approved

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Åström Elmersjö, Henrik
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