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Nation and Nativism in Medieval Scandinavia

International Workshop Sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation

Dr. Ian Peter Grohse
Institute for Early Medieval Studies
Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation
28 May 2016

Johannisstr. 4
48143 Münster
Room JO 102

The emergence of the Scandinavian kingdoms as distinct political communities in the central and late Middle Ages was both the result of and impetus for the cultivation of national identities. Fledgling visions of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian nationhood, be they culturally, socially or politically sourced, sharped both normative and practical delineations between native and foreign constituencies. Remarkably, these distinctions not only endured, but often intensified as the kingdoms were drawn closer together in different phases of trans-regional dynastic and political unification in the late 14th and 15th centuries.


While the dialectic relationship between native-foreign identifications has figured into examinations of nationalism in the individual kingdoms, few studies have addressed the issue on a broader plane. We contend that a more inclusive approach, one that encompasses the wider Scandinavian region, will enable us to shed light on the distinct, but at times strikingly similar modalities by which these political communities defined themselves as national entities, on the one hand, and regulated interaction with foreign entities, on the other.


Our workshop examines the relationship between identity and alterity in the early construction of nationhood in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the North Atlantic islands. Specifically, our aim is to address the role of native-foreign differentiations and nativism in the cultivation of those identities. The invited speakers have published on issues of nationhood and nativism in medieval Scandinavia, each with a different geographic focus and specialized approach to source material. Aiming to broaden discussion through trans-regional comparison, the panel also heartily invites students and professional scholars working with related questions in other European and non-European contexts.


28 May 2016

Johannisstr. 4
48143 Münster
Room JO 102

09:30 Welcome Coffee

10:00 Greeting Paper: Introduction
Dr. Christian Scholl, Münster

10:15 Nation and Nativism in Medieval Scandinavia — Regional or European Phenomena?
Dr. Ian Peter Grohse, Münster

11:15 Swedes and Others — Identity Formation in Medieval Sweden
Dr. Margaretha Nordquist, Stockholm

12:15 Lunch

13:30 Norwegian Identity in the Late Middle Ages, Regnal or National?
Dr. Erik Opsahl, Trondheim

14:30 Sub-National Identities. Nativism in Medieval Iceland and Orkney
Dr. Ian Peter Grohse, Münster

15:30 Coffee

15:45 Imagining the Nation and the Native: Medieval Nations through the Prism of Modern Scandinavian Historiography
Karl Christian Alvestad, Winchester

16:45 Roundtable Discussion

17:45 Conclusion