Sweden in World History: The Importance of China and the Vietnam War for Shaping Europes Political Landscape '

  • JOHANSSON, Perry (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Altough postcolonial studies have managed to communicate the bias of Western historiography of the non-West, few attempts have been made to explore the importance of the non-West for the history of Western nations. Stressing the role China and the Vietnam War had for changing its political landscape this project aims for a fundamental revision of Sweden’s contemporary history along this line. By shifting focus from Sweden’s role internationally to the importance of global events for the development of its domestic politics a new understanding for the emergence of radicalization under Olof Palme is pursued. Proceeding from newly opened archives and recently published memoirs this proposed investigation attempts to explain the appearance of an influential Maoist movement in the late 1960s - laying bare the reactions and changes this movement forced upon Swedish foreign and domestic policy of the 1970s. A first hypothesis, already tried in a pilot study, indicates it was the Chinese Communist Party who laid the foundation for a Maoist led united front in Sweden by inviting and training a small number of Swedes. A second hypothesis following directly from the first is that the radicalization of the ruling Swedish Social Democratic Party was directly caused by political provocations and its relentless focus on American atrocities in Vietnam by the United Front. A third idea that follows from this is that the Social Democratic Party came to use the Vietnam War for domestic politics; especially during national political elections. This proposed revisionist narrative of contemporary Swedish history is to be framed by an epistemological discussion about state influence over Swedish historiography during Social Democratic Party rule. Much of the material from Chinese and Swedish archives has been collected already. The part of the project founded by the RGC will run for two years and result in one article, two conference presentations, and a monograph. The general lesson presumptively drawn from this proposed study is that local history is not comprehensible without its global context. This study might become an important first step for a much needed change of focus in historiography from National history to world history and could also bring important new information and insights to the fields of Cold War and China Studies. After all, Sweden was an important proponent on the side of many socialist liberation movements in the Third World during the Cold War era.
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/08/16


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