CfP: Exploring the History of Knowledge(s) and Education

In the last half-century, the Nordic countries have increasingly been refashioned as self-proclaimed ‘knowledge societies’. Educational reform, from compulsory primary schooling to folk high schools and the expansion of free university education, is also a central element of narratives describing the region’s path to modernity and the making of the Nordic welfare states. To gain in-depth understanding of the history of the region, however, historians have revealed the need for critical empirical examination beyond sweeping generalization or simplified narratives of success in the areas of education and knowledge.

For a special issue of the Nordic Journal of Educational History, we seek to bring new perspectives to the history of education and knowledge by gathering researchers from these two expanding subfields of historical inquiry – the history of knowledge and the history of education – closer together. Like the practitioners of other subdisciplines of historical inquiry that take interest in the production and communication of knowledge, such as the history of science and ideas, scholars in these fields have several mutual interests: the social dimensions of knowledge, the circulation and distribution of different forms of knowledge as well as the institutions and actors that shape education and knowledge. Yet, the history of education and the history of knowledge have evolved as distinct scholarly entities with their own traditions, conferences and journals.

The history of education has often been associated with formal schooling and compulsory education, but in recent years the subject has broadened its scope to address other sites and institutions of education. A similar expansion of the research agenda has been an impetus to the formation of history of knowledge as distinct from, say, the history of science. Historians of knowledge consider the use and circulation of knowledge beyond the traditionally learned spheres of society, including embodied and mundane knowledge. As Simone Lässig has pointed out, this perspective raises new questions and makes it possible to examine how groups traditionally not associated with knowledge-related agency, such as migrant children, have acted as mediators and producers of knowledge.

For this special issue of the Nordic Journal of Educational History, we invite contributions that explore the historical relationship between knowledge and education in different periods and social contexts. By bringing researchers from these expanding subfields of historical inquiry together, our aim is to develop new perspectives that may enhance our understanding of knowledge and education in the past. We seek submissions that discuss empirical cases or address new theoretical and methodological approaches to the historical study of knowledge and education. While Northern Europe is the geographical focus of the journal, contributions may deal with any period or geographical area.

Contributions may address one or more of the following themes:

  • the relationship between knowledge and power in the history of education
  • the agency of children, youth and other marginalized or disempowered groups in the history of education
  • the connection between the production and mediation of knowledge in the history of education
  • educational spaces and geographical settings involved in the circulation of knowledge
  • practices involved in the circulation of knowledge in various educational settings
  • the circulation of knowledge between formal and informal or extra-curricular activities

We seek submission of abstracts of no more than 250 words proposing articles for publication in this special issue. Acceptance of abstracts does not guarantee acceptance of article for publication, as all articles will be subject to a double-blind peer-review process. Contributors will be invited to participate in 1–2 workshops, discussing outlines and article drafts (the first in May 2021).

Deadline for 250 word abstracts: 31 December 2020.

Deadline for 1–2 page outline: April 2021; manuscripts due September 2021; planned publication: 2022.

This special issue will be edited by Björn Lundberg, Ph.D., Department of History, Lund University.

Please e-mail abstracts and questions to:

The Call for papers is available as a PDF for download.


Burke, Peter. What is the History of Knowledge? Cambridge: Polity, 2016.

Lässig, Simone. “The History of Knowledge and the Expansion of the Historical Research Agenda.” Bulletin of the GHI 59 (2016).

Mulsow, Martin. “History of Knowledge.” In Debating New Approaches to History, edited by Marek Tamm and Peter Burke. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

Östling, Johan, David Larsson Heidenblad, and Anna Nilsson Hammar, eds. Forms of Knowledge: Developing the History of Knowledge. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2020.

Östling, Johan, et al. “The History of Knowledge and the Circulation of Knowledge: An Introduction.” In Circulation of Knowledge: Explorations in the History of Knowledge , edited by Johan Östling et al. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2018.

Östling, Johan, Niklas Olsen & David Larsson Heidenblad, eds. Histories of Knowledge in Postwar Scandinavia: Actors Arenas, and Aspirations. London: Routledge, 2020.

Photo (left): Elever vid Engelbrekts folkskola 1952. Foto: Herman Ronninger, Stockholms stadsmuseum/Stockholmskällan

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