Evaluering av norsk historiefaglig forskning: Bortenfor nasjonen i tid og rom: fortidens makt og fremtidens muligheter i norsk historieforskning

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Dorthe Gert Simonsen, Thomas Lindkvist, Bo Stråth, Nils Erik Villstrand, Anette Warring, Vera Schwartz

English summary


Beyond the Nation in Time and Space: Power of the Past and Prospects of the Future
in Norwegian Historical Research.


The aim of the evaluation of historical research in Norway has been to develop the research of the discipline by identifying preconditions contributing to promote quality. The evaluation provides an estimation of strength and weaknesses as well as future trends and challenges. The evaluation is based on an analysis of eleven academic
environments where historical research is being undertaken. The evaluation made at the request of the Norwegian Research Council has considered quality and relevance, organisation, training and cooperation patterns, capacity and financing, future developments and requirements.
As a gauge for the comparison the evaluation committee, consisting of five historians from Denmark, Finland and Sweden covering various chronological and thematic fields, has developed an ideal typical meta framework. The ideal type is a normative reflection on future development trends based on a long-term estimation of the development of professional academic historiography since the mid-19th century. The normative assumptions are explicit and can therefore serve as a point of departure for a critical debate on the present state of the art as well as on future challenges and opportunities. The ideal type serves as a road map for future orientation. With this method the evaluation committee has abstained from more conventional approaches, which would have implied attempts to compare Norwegian history research with the research in other nations without possibilities to analyse the international scene in the same depth as the Norwegian. The committee has abstained from a more conventional
method, often quantitative, aiming at a kind of ranking among nations, and instead preferred to discuss the future in terms of potential and possibilities and thereby shifting the perspective more generally and to more principal questions about trends, challenges and prospects.
In general the committee finds that historical research has a strong position in the Norwegian public debate. History is an important point of reference in the debate, in particular local history. An indication of the high repute is the size of the externally financed research commissioned by local, regional and central government offices and authorities and by business companies and trade associations, trade unions and other voluntary associations. There is obviously a high demand for academic professional historical research. However, the bulk of the research is – as elsewhere – in the vein of methodological nationalism.
With reference to the ideal type the evaluation committee discusses the long-term sustainability of this well-reputed and high-profile position of professional historiography in Norway under connection to the question of future challenges. A growing problem in society is simplified theories of time and space. Social sciences operate, since the 1990s, with models of teleological progress disengaged from the role and responsibility of shaping politics, and with imaginations of a simplistic transition of spatial conceptualisations from a focus on the nation to a global understanding with less distinct borders. These developments of interpretative frameworks erode political and social legitimacy. There is an urgent need for a more realistic non-teleological theoretical reflection on time and space. Historiography can make a major contribution in that respect through a focussed problematisation of temporal and spatial borders
under reflection on the connections between continuities and discontinuities and on the complex connections between local, regional, national, international and global borders.
Norwegian professional historical research has through its high standard and reputation the potential to contribute to such a development. However, a convincing contribution would require a more explicit discussion of strategies and priorities and stronger methodological and theoretical connections of the empirical research items. A stronger
historical agenda setting, with problematisation of main stream political, social and economic theories, could lead to a realisation of an under-exploited potential in Norwegian professional historical research. More distinct strategic reflection and priority choices require, in turn, more transparent information about the financing.

Original languageNorwegian
Place of PublicationOslo
PublisherNorges Forskningsråd
Number of pages227
ISBN (Print)978-82-12-02532-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-82-12-02533-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

ID: 5104869