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This article discusses recent developments in Nordic environmental history scholarship in light of the concept of the Anthropocene. Taking concepts of nature and culture as entangled with each other, the article explores questions of definition, disciplinary knowledge and the need for interdisciplinarity, and the problem of national, spatial, and temporal boundaries in environmental history. Both natural spaces and the scientific knowledge we have about nature need to be historicized. The article concludes with a look to the future of Nordic environmental history.
Denne artikkelens utgangspunkt er en interesse for de historiske koblingene mel-lom dyr og mennesker. Mer spesifikt henter den inspirasjon fra medisin- og byhistorie der en rekke studier har vist at smittespredende utøy har bidratt i formingen av bysamfunn og offentlig helse. Artikkelen argumenterer for at dette er et viktig tema for historieskriving, men at det fordrer en historisering av medisinernes fortellinger om sammenhengen mellom utøy, by og menneskelig helse. Dette temaet utforskes så gjennom en empirisk studie av hvordan tre byleger i Trondheim fremstilte utøy, i form av rotter, lus og veggedyr, i sine beretninger om sunnhetstilstanden i byen. Ved å gjøre dette, viser artikkelen at legenes forståelse av sammenhengen mellom utøy, by og befolkning i første halvdel av 1900-tallet var historisk betinget og derfor et passende studieobjekt i seg selv.
This article discusses recent developments in Nordic environmental history scholarship in light of the concept of the Anthropocene. Taking nature and culture as entangled with each other, the article explores questions of definitions, disciplinary knowledge and the need for interdisciplinarity, and the problem of national, spatial and temporal boundaries in environmental history. Both natural spaces and the scientific knowledge we have about nature need to be historicized. The article concludes with a look to the future of Nordic environmental history.
I storparten av vår fortid har historien blitt skrevet med påholden penn. Den friheten som forskere og forfattere krever i våre dager er ikke selvsagt. Friheten er snarere et produkt av særegne samfunnsforhold som har gjort den til en mulighet. I Danmark-Norge la kongemakten bånd på den intellektuelle friheten, og dette preget formidlingen av historien: kongen skulle være den beundrete hovedpersonen i historien. Maktforholdene øvde dessuten innflytelse på kildenes innhold og hva som overlevde alle de ødeleggelsene som ellers truet historiske overleveringer. Den norske adelen og den norske katolske kirken led ikke bare et totalt nederlag i 1536–37, men minnet om dem gikk også tapt hver dag etter nederlaget.
In most of the past, history has been written as in embedded journalism, with spin as the norm and objectivity an abstract ideal practised by spin doctors. In Denmark and Norway in the period 1536–1814 the Danish king became extremely powerful as a consequence of the royal Lutheran reformation in 1536, the abolishment of Norwegian self-rule in 1536–37 and royal absolutism from 1660. There were no independent intermediary institutions to support and shelter attitudes and perspectives which were different from those propagated and sponsored by royal authorities. The king established a system of censorship administered by the royal Lutheran Church and the University of Copenhagen, which was the only university in Denmark–Norway. The control of research and writing on history was especially strict, supervised directly by the government itself, chiefly through the office of royal historiography, and with royal archives and libraries as tools in the control regime. Old books and sources which did not get official protection mostly perished, and historical works could not be published unless authorized. The king and his ancestors were praised as exceptionally good rulers, and historians and intellectuals concluded that the Danish form of government was the best political system. The history of Norway prior to Danish dominance after 1536–37 was a delicate matter. The Norwegian Catholic Church and the Norwegian nobility had no recognized place in official history, and St. Olav could no longer be revered as the eternal Norwegian patron king. But the Danish kings were interested in strengthening their legitimacy in Norway through historical works about the Old Norse and Norwegian kings, who were referred to as their ancestors and predecessors. Thanks to the popularity of the medieval Norse kings sagas this bolstered Norwegian national pride in coexistence with due loyalty to the present-day Danish kings.
Dannelsen av en folkelig offentlighet på bygdene i tiårene etter 1814 er et underkommunisert og lite behandlet tema i norsk historieforskning. Offentlighet i første del av 1800-tallet har i norsk historieforskning, med noen unntak, vært knyttet til borgerskapet i byene. Denne artikkelen har søkt å vise at det skjedde en langt sterkere demokratisering og politisering av allmuegrupper på den norske landsbygda enn det tidligere forskning har vært klar over. Utviklingen i Norge har mange paralleller til den vi f.eks. finner i Storbritannia og Frankrike på samme tid, med sterk politisk aktivisering av ulike underklassegrupper. Artikkelen understreker også året 1814 som et viktig vendepunkt i norsk politisk historie. Den folkelige offentligheten på bygdene ble i stor grad skapt etter det store frihetsåret.
Previous studies of political culture in Norway in the period 1814–1850 have mainly concentrated on events and movements surrounding the Storting and the bourgeoisie in large urban areas. Exceptions were formation of the peasants’ opposition in the Storting and of the radical lower class movement under the guidance of Marcus Thrane in 1848–1851. Little attention has been paid to the development of a popular rural public sphere and the early democratization of local communities in Norway in the period 1814–1850. This article argues that democratization and politicization taking place after 1814 intensified in the 1830s and 1840s and encompassed large numbers of the rural lower classes (including servants, cottars and craftsmen). These processes occurred more rapidly and to a far greater extent than previous research has maintained – areas such as inns, tavernas, small taprooms, the church Green as well as private homes and houses were all given new meanings and functions and, as a result, became informal political arenas that differed from those existing before 1814. Groups and individuals from various social backgrounds came together to discuss and identify societal issues of common interest and thereby to influence political action and decision making. In addition to spreading liberal political ideas, this led to widespread literacy and the distribution of letters, books, pamphlets, handwritten and printed protest documents and newspapers, especially in regard to important school reforms. In the decades after 1814, considerable efforts made to increase local self-government were often initiated from below; these materializing in new political institutions based on popular representation and heralding the ensuing great communal reform in 1837 dictating that local law devolve a substantial amount of power from local authorities to popular local bodies. This combination of forces led to vastly popular political radicalization and strong opposition to the Establishment. The present article tones down the common description of peasants as traditional and restricted in their opposition to State officials (the embetsmenn), and also the established view that politicization reached the peasant elite or upper social strata in the local communities first. Furthermore, the article underlines that 1814 was a watershed year characterized by relatively rapid formation of a socially inclusive rural public sphere whose political implications parallel what we know took place in contemporary England and France.