History of Political Thought

Over the last few decades, research on political history has come to be marked by a broad and multifaceted concept of politics and “the political.” Societal changes have forced historians to reconsider their preconceptions about the spatial and temporal scales at which political history should be analyzed, for periods from ancient history to the history of the present. It is increasingly clear that our present is the product of overlapping temporalities and coexisting political worlds. A changing political landscape in the present also reinvests political history with actuality.

Currently, many problems in political history can be revisited as topics of contemporary concern. What have been the relationships between formal and informal political arenas? How can we understand the logic and exercise of power among elites, experts and citizens? What are the underpinnings of historical and current political philosophies and ideologies? What has been (and what could be) the relation between the nation state and the world?

Scholars of the intellectual history of the political seek to address these questions through a wide range of new methodologies and themes, including: transnationalism; transversal approaches to the overlap between intellectual, environmental and economic history; and a move from a focus on politics at the national scale to a new interest in categories like the world, the planet, and the global. Key concerns in the latest research include the making and remaking of political subjectivities and categories, logics of politicization and depoliticization, and the demarcation between the political and other areas, like the scientific or the economic.

Researchers at the Department study topics in political-intellectual history such as: how areas of social life like culture, academic research, and health became the subject of new political fields; the co-production of scientific theory, models and policy; problems of futurity and future generations; the history of marketing and political communication; and the historical emergence of various arenas of international politics. A new research strand is the program Neoliberalism in the Nordics which begins in the spring of 2020.

L’Emeute, ca 1860, cropped, Honoré Daumier. The Phillips Collection.
L’Emeute, ca 1860, cropped, Honoré Daumier. The Phillips Collection.

Current Research in the History of Political Thought

Last modified: 2023-01-25