The use of history in regional branding. The case of Hardanger.

This article analyzes the use of history in attempts to build the region Hardanger in Western Norway as a brand. The attempts carried out by the regional council, Hardangerrådet, is the main focus, although the use of history by other institutions in the region is analyzed as well. Two projects are analyzed: the establishment of «Trademark Hardanger» in 2005 and a regional project related to the Norwegian constitutional bicentenary in 2014. History was utilized in many contexts and in various ways in these projects. The objectives could be categorized as commercial, political and pedagogical as well as moral, depending on which purposes and in which contexts history was used.

A main argument in the article is that perspectives from research on the use of history are expedient, in order to analyze branding of geographical entities within their societal contexts. In such a sense, these perspectives also represent a supplement to critical literature on branding. For one thing, literature on the use of history provides us with instruments to analyze the historical culture in which the use and non-use of history is embedded.