Research in the subject of history

The subject of history has a clear societal relevance and historians play an important role in the social debate. This is so to a high degree for the Department of History at Lund University whose teachers/researchers who are often present in the mass media as experts or otherwise presenting knowledge. Research in history since ca. 1990 has had a focus on cultural history. The field of cultural history is very broad and is characterized by different subject interests and theoretical and methodological perspectives. In terms of time, the research at the department stretches from the early Middle Ages to the present with somewhat more focus on the early modern and 19th century. Some of the department’s research is aimed at educational history and the use of history broadly speaking. In a national perspective, the department is leading in the fields of historical culture and history didactics.

The contents of the research

The largest part of the department’s research deals with conditions in Swedish history, which in general is put into an international context. There is also research that more directly aimed at international conditions. To this can be counted research about state building process in Europe, genocide in European history culture, as well as communism’s and National Socialism’s history in a comparative perspective. In the last few years, global history has taken a more central place with studies of Sweden’s relations to North Africa during older times, pirates in Southeast Asia, and the global history of slavery. An emerging field showing interest into the history of knowledge also finds some interest at the department, and several researchers focus on the role of religion in society and culture. Even this theme is dealt with in a broad international perspective.

A keyword for many of the researchers at the department is identity, with a focus on nationalism, cultural meetings, and borders, which are studied over a longer time perspective. A special interest in the border problems around the Sound of the Öresund region in early modern time exists. Research into the history of mentalities has a long tradition at the department. This research perspective has during the 21st century gained a stronger focus on ethics and morals, which has generated a whole list of publications. Here, a successful cooperation over disciplinary and departmental borders has developed. To this field, research about the role of feelings in history, a position that several of the department’s researchers are tied to, can be placed.

Gender history has a strong place at the department as well. This research, which even includes studies on manliness, spans long periods of time and shows a broad theoretical spectrum. Another central research field is modern popular culture. Here there is research about daily life, images of society, and varying cultural expressions in the weekly press, film, and photography. A characterizing feature for this cultural research is its ambition to put the cultural sphere in relation to politics and society.

For several decades, there has been research done on labor history at the department. Some of these operations are located at the Center for Labor History in Landskrona, Sweden. Researchers established in this research tradition have, with inspiration foremost in British social history, studied class formation, worker culture, and riots. In later years, even environmental-history perspectives and research about political radicalism have been introduced.

The department has a well-developed research field on education and the use of history and since 2009 has, in cooperation with Malmoe University College, run a licentiate degree researcher education in history and history didactics. It has resulted in ca. 15 licentiate-theses. A long list of doctoral dissertations has also come to light within the framework of this research field.  

Seminars and graduate schools

The Department of History has a large offering of seminars. Presently, we have specialty seminars for global history, history didactics, radical movements in modern society, religion in a historical perspective, pre-modern history, historiography, and a Foucault seminar. These seminars have a interdisciplinary aim and cooperate with other subjects and departments at Lund University. Check the department’s calendar for upcoming seminars. Contact the seminar-leaders if you are interested.  

Since 2001, the subject of history at the department is host to the National Graduate school in Historical Studies in cooperation with Malmoe University, Södertörn University College, Linné University, and (from 2011) Gothenburg University. This has resulted in a unique volume in terms of a researcher education. During the years 2008-2016 the department has had over 50 defense seminars, even if the majority of these have been done by PhD students placed at partner universities/colleges. The subjects of these dissertations fit well the pattern given above on the department’s research profile. However, a modern historical focus as well as a focus on Swedish conditions is stronger than among the senior researchers at the department.


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