Humanities in motion: Circulation of knowledge in postwar Sweden and West Germany
Research areas and keywords
UKÄ subject classification
The project has been designed within the framework of the history of knowledge. It is inspired by new tendencies in the history of science, global history, media history, the history of the book, the history of the humanities and other adjacent fields. A key analytical concept is circulation of knowledge—in other words, how knowledge is set in motion and how it is transformed in the process. This can mean investigations of how knowledge has been popularized, translated or disseminated, but also of the actors, arenas or media formats that have been instrumental in processes of circulation.
One of our ambitions is to develop the analysis of circulation in general terms. We do this by introducing the concept of “knowledge arena”. This can be understood as a place or a platform that within its given framework offers opportunities and sets limits for the circulation of knowledge. It serves as a meeting point for certain types of knowledge actors and audiences. In order for it to be an arena that promotes the circulation of knowledge in society at large, it must usually have a measure of stability and persistence.
Our empirical research comprises comparative studies of public arenas of knowledge. Johan Östling will analyse humanistic knowledge in postwar mass media. In a first study, he takes his point of departure in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet’s daily essay-page “Under strecket” and its leading actors. Based on this, he expands his scope to the role of the press as an arena for the circulation of academic knowledge. In another study, he focuses on certain dimensions of broadcast media, especially early television. Several of the leading figures who appeared here in the 1960s had a solid academic background and were instrumental for promulgating scholarly knowledge.
Anton Jansson in his first study investigates the postwar Christian public sphere. This period is often regarded as relatively secular, but there were strong Christian movements, opinions and institutions. This is thematised as a specific segment of the public sphere with its own actors, arenas and audiences. In focus in this study is Christian cultural journals, wherein humanistic knowledge had an important function. In Jansson’s second study, he investigates popular education (folkbildning), with a specific focus on the Swedish labour movement and social democracy. The labour movement may also be seen as having a specific public sphere of its own, where collective formation and circulation of knowledge was taking place, both locally and nationally. In the study the activities of the Workers' Educational Association (ABF) are analyzed, as is the Brunnsvik Folk high school and the magazines and journals of the movement, such as Tiden. Also here, the specific role of humanistic knowledge is examined.
Ragni Svensson’s two contributions to the project examine the circulation of humanistic knowledge from a book market perspective. The first study analyses the popularization of the humanities through the so-called paperback revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Particular attention is paid to Bonnier’s popular science series, Aldus, published between 1957 and 1977. Aldus is one of the most important Swedish examples of a paperback publication with a popular-educational ambition, partly based on patterns from West Germany. In her second study, Svensson examines the circulation of humanistic knowledge within the Swedish book cafe movement during the 1970s. The socialist book cafes were examples of how a knowledge arena can act simultaneously as an outward-looking activity with the purpose of influencing a public opinion, and inwardly as part of a kind of counter-public, or alternative knowledge arena.
All in all, the research project “Humanities in Motion” has several overarching purposes. Firstly, we strive to develop the discussion on the circulation of knowledge in theoretical terms, not least by introducing the concept of knowledge arena. Secondly, we hope to offer empirical concretion to the often general and programmatic statements that so far have characterized the history of knowledge. Thirdly, we would like to challenge the recurrent notion of “the crisis of the humanities” during the postwar period and instead demonstrate the importance that humanistic knowledge had in the public sphere. Finally, we believe that with our focus on the pre-digital world of the 1960s and 1970s, we can help to put today’s increasingly digital existence into a historical perspective.
|Short title||Humanities in motion|
|Effective start/end date||2019/03/01 → 2021/02/28|
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
2019/01/01 → 2023/12/31
Johan Östling, Anna Nilsson Hammar, David Larsson Heidenblad, Karolina Enquist Källgren, Kajsa Weber, Erik Bodensten, Björn Lundberg, Victoria Höög, Anton Jansson, Ragni Svensson, Martin Ericsson, Lise Groesmeyer, Karl Haikola & Anton Öhman
2014/08/25 → …
Project: Network › Internal collaboration (LU)
Related research output
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Book chapter
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Activity: Talk or presentation › Presentation
Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Organisation of workshop/ seminar/ course