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Things are different elsewhere: An intellectual history of intellectual history in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Anton Jansson
Published in Global Intellectual History
ISSN 2380-1883
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Language en
Keywords Intellectual history, history of humanities, history of science, idéhistoria, Sweden, interdisciplinarity
Subject categories History of Ideas, History of science


In the 2010s, intellectual history has been experiencing growth and success internationally. There have been discussions about the identity and status of the field, often including taking recourse to its history. Such historiography focuses on the larger countries, which means leaving out one country where the historical study of ideas have been successfully institutionalized, namely Sweden. This article deals with the Swedish discipline idéhistoria, founded in 1932, and will introduce and situate the discipline within discussions of the international field of intellectual history, considering in what sense idéhistoria is a form of intellectual history. The findings are that if intellectual history is defined closely to the Cambridge School tradition, then idéhistoria is different, but if intellectual history is a field which more generally studies human thought, knowledge and ideas in their historical contexts, then idéhistoria is one nationally distinct but successful form of intellectual history. Having kept strong ties to the history of science, but also developing in other directions throughout its history, the discipline is today eclectic, held together more by institutional means than a strong kernel in methodology or practice. Still, for those advocating a broader intellectual history, idéhistoria may be seen as an interesting example.

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