Stefan Nygård: (trans)nationality and intellectual fields. The case of Finland

This project on the sociocultural history of Finnish intellectuals from the 1880s to the 1930s pays particular attention to the role of internationality in peripheral contexts. As in other small countries, Finnish intellectuals developed a variety of strategies for dealing with constraints imposed by their position in a peripheral culture with a strong focus on national identity politics. Some of them turned to internationality in defending the autonomy of intellectual life vis-à-vis ideological constraints. While seeking recognition and accumulating symbolic capital abroad was a means to compensate for the lack autonomy in the national field, these intellectuals did not become “denationalized” in the process. International strategies and cosmopolitan positions were anchored in specific local circumstances, which are are explored in a series of empirical case studies on individuals and groups, from “cultural radicals” such as Hjalmar Neiglick to the journal Euterpe at the turn of the century and Ultra in the 1920s.

Stefan Nygård is currently based at the European University Institute in Florence, as an Academy of Finland post-doc fellow (2011-2013). His PhD thesis (2009) dealt with the philosophy of Henri Bergson in Finland as a case study of cultural transfers. His current project relates to the social history of European intellectuals in a comparative and transnational perspective.

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