Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Activism, civilizing mission and national project. Sweden and the Finnish Civil war 1918 in a transnational perspective.

Ämne: Historia
Projektledare: Lars Ekdahl
Startår: 2016
Projekttyp: Projekt

It is often claimed that the Scandinavian countries during the twentieth century were pioneers in democratic development, peace-making and political arbitration.

At the same time, the idea of Sweden as conveyor of a peace-keeping and consensus oriented political tradition in contrast to a troubled and chaotic surrounding world is today regarded as antiquated. In other words, there is a need for more concrete studies to analyze the lines of conflict in the Swedish relations to the surrounding world and what impact these lines of conflict have had in later developments, both in Swedish politics and in the Swedish relations to foreign countries.

The focus of the proposed project is to study, in connection with the upcoming centenary of the Finnish civil war, how the Swedish political sphere during the last stages of World War 1 dealt with the conflict in its eastern neighbor country and also how this complex and brutal process in Finland influenced the Swedish political arena and society.

So far a more comprehensive study of the Finnish civil war in its international context has been lacking. The ambition of the proposed project is to contextualize the Swedish discussion of ideas and the ideological debate on modernization and the future role of Sweden in the Baltic region in a transnational perspective where the international networks and contacts of the various Swedish political orientations are researched in a broader context.

The concept of political sphere, or arena, refers in this study to the right wing activists as well as the financial sector and bourgeois parties and their contacts with their German and Finnish counterparts, and also to the parties and organizations of the Swedish workers movement and their counterparts in Germany, Finland, and, to some extent, in Russia.

The aim of the proposed study is thus to bring forward new knowledge about Sweden’s position in the Baltic area during the last stages of World War 1 and what part the Finnish Civil War played in defining and polarizing the conflicting lines on how to modernize society in Sweden. The source material in the study consists of the archives of the political organizations and movements, of personal archives, and of press clippings. 

Final report-Lars Ekdahl- Activism, civilizing mission and national project. Sweden and the Finnish Civil war 1918 in a transnational perspective