Nordics in Motion: Transimperial Spaces and Global Experiences
Call for papers for a journal special issue and author workshop:

The past decade has witnessed a growing interest in Nordic involvement in colonialism, whether participation in the global slave trade, settler colonialism in Sámi lands, or various forms of collaboration by Nordic individuals and groups with other European empires (Alsaker Kjerland & Enge Bertelsen 2015; Petersen et al. 2017; Fur & Hennessey 2020; Lahti & Kullaa 2020). Nevertheless, much of this research has been conducted within a national framework, rather than a Nordic regional one. While this literature has done much to dispel nationalist myths of moral superiority through supposed non-involvement in colonialism, it often fails to take into account the inherently transnational and transimperial nature of all of these colonial histories.

What can a Nordic perspective bring to the study of transimperial spaces and mobilities in global history? How can the study of Nordic transimperial connections and movements in turn recontextualize Nordic national histories? Is understanding how, why, and where Nordic peoples operated in spaces and networks between empires relevant for explaining and understanding present-day Nordic identities and cultures?

These are some of the questions the articles in this special issue will seek to address as they track Nordic people working, living, and traveling in a variety of transimperial spaces. They will follow connections across national and imperial boundaries and chart historical processes as relational – meaning interactive, dialectic, and constituted of layers and relations. The articles will situate and analyze Nordic mobilities through different spatial scales and analytical layers, providing cross-cutting examinations of the techniques of colonial reimagining and reengineering of geographic domains, ethnic boundaries, and national identities.

We will discuss Nordic entanglements in the broader world of empires via an accumulation of multidirectional connections arising from a multiplicity of intricate human actions, traversing great distances, displaying manifold voices, and involving numerous locations. We will contribute to moving beyond the usual notions of “complicit colonialism” or “Nordic exceptionalism” to embed Nordic colonial histories in their transnational, transimperial, and global framings, understandings, and entanglements.


Please submit abstracts by 15 November to Janne Lahti ( and John Hennessey ( A workshop with the issue’s authors is planned in the mid- to late spring 2022 in Helsinki.


Works Cited:

Alsaker Kjerland, Kirsten and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (eds), Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania (Berghahn, 2015).

Für, Gunlög and John L. Hennessey (eds), ‘Svensk kolonialism’, special issue of Historisk Tidskrift, 140:3 (2020).

Lahti, Janne and Rinna Kullaa (eds), ‘Kolonialismi ja Suomi’, special issue of Historiallinen Aikakauskirja, 118:4 (2020).

Petersen, Mikkel Vendborg et. al. (eds), Danmark og Kolonierne, 5 vols. (Copenhagen: GADs forlag, 2017).