Book Presentation Event

Friday, April 8, 17:30–19:00

at Harnack House


Three newly published books on European, German and Nordic conceptual history




Pasi Ihalainen & Mikko Fritze, Opening of the book launch and welcome by the Finnish Institute in Berlin



Antero Holmila & Pasi Ihalainen, Introduction to the European Conceptual History volume 7, Nationalisms and Internationalisms Intertwined: A European history of concepts beyond the nation state, eds. Pasi Ihalainen & Antero Holmila. Berghahn Books: New York 2022.


It is commonplace that the modern world is more international than at any point in human history. Yet the sheer profusion of terms for describing politics beyond the nation state—including ‘international’, ‘European’, ‘global’, ‘transnational’ and ‘cosmopolitan’, among others—is but one indication of how conceptually complex this field actually is. Taking a wide view of internationalism(s) in Europe since the eighteenth century, Nationalism and Internationalism Intertwined explores discourses and practices to challenge nation-centered histories and trace the entanglements that arise from international cooperation. A multidisciplinary group of scholars in history, discourse studies and digital humanities asks how internationalism has been experienced, understood, constructed, debated and redefined across different European political cultures as well as related to the wider world. While a quantitative rise and qualitative diversifications in internationalism are traceable, so is a recent neonationalistic turn. Is ‘internationalism’ like ‘democracy’—an idealistic goal that is never achieved but which nevertheless motivates search for a better future? This conceptual history of internationalisms deepens our understanding of profound processes in world history that links the past with the national and global concerns of today.


The following authors will be present for the discussion: Jani Marjanen & Ruben Ros (Ch. 3 on the nineteenth century), Hagen Schulz-Forberg (Ch. 7 on world economy), Joris van Eijnatten (Ch. 8 on ecumenism and Ch. 10 on European integration), and Norbert Götz (Ch. 11 on humanitarianism and universalism).



Jani Marjanen and Johan Strang, Introduction to Helsinki Yearbook of Intellectual History volume 2, Contesting Nordicness: From Scandinavianism to the Nordic Brand, eds. Jani Marjanen, Johan Strang and Mary Hilson. De Gruyter Olderburg 2022. Open access at


The terms ‘Nordic’ and ‘Scandinavian’ are widely used to refer to the politics, society and culture of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. But why have people felt the need to frame things as Nordic and why has the adjective Nordic become so prominent? This book adopts a rhetorical approach, analysing the speech acts which have shaped the meanings of the term. What do the different terms Nordic and Scandinavian have in common, and how have the uses of these terms changed in different historical periods? What accounts for the apparent upsurge in uses of the rhetoric of Nordicness in the 2010s? Drawing on eight case studies of the uses of Nordic and Scandinavian from the nineteenth century to the present day, the book explores the appeal and the flexibility of the rhetoric of Nordicness, in relation to race, openness, gender equality, food, crime fiction, Nordic co-operation and the Nordic model. Arguing that ‘Nordic’ and ‘Scandinavian’ are flexible and contested concepts that have been used in different, often contradictory and inherently political ways, the book suggests that the usage of the term has evolved from a means of creating a cultural community, to forging political co-operation and further to marketing models in politics and popular culture. The rhetorical approach also shows how many of the hallmarks of Nordic political culture, such as the Nordic model, Nordic gender equality or Nordic openness are more recent conceptualisations than usually assumed. As such, the book argues for the need to turn attention away from analysing the different components of Nordicness into studying how, when, and for what purpose different features were made Nordic. 



Kari Palonen, Politik als parlamentarischer Begriff. Perspektiven aus den Plenardebatten des Deutschen Bundestags, Verlag Barbara Budrich 2021.


The book analyses the ways of talking about politics as a concept in the parliamentary plenary debates of the German Bundestag. The research agenda contains aspects of conceptual history, rhetoric, parliamentary studies and political theory. The narrative follows thematic knot-points for problematising politics, interpreted with a scheme containing politicisation, polity, politicking and policy. The debates in the 1970s and 1980s are regarded as a period of when the controversial quality of politics and the significance of politics for the citizens became better understood. A shift in the conceptualisation of the polity from the national to include also the European and global levels was a major change during the decades studied.



Pasi Ihalainen & Mikko Fritze, Closing of the session

Contact Us

The History of Concepts Group

Martin J. Burke (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)


Contributions to the History of Concepts


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To subscribe to Contributions to the History of Concepts and become a member of the History of Concepts Group, please visit the subscription page over at Berghahn Journals.




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Rieke Trimcev (University of Greifswald)