Oslo Contemporary International History Network (completed)

The Oslo Contemporary International History Network (OCIHN) brought together early-career researchers with established scholars in their fields.

About the project

The Oslo Contemporary International History Network (OCIHN) was established in order to meet some of the criticisms of the report commissioned by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) which evaluated the quality of historical research carried out at Norway’s four main universities and four of the university colleges. The network was designed to respond to the report's critique of the discipline of history as nationally oriented and with a strong predominance of male historians.

The project was designed to inspire early-career researchers to engage on a more global level with their own research projects and to further qualify early career female historians for academic careers. The project combined methods from research schools and networks and represented a new, alternative way to systematically and strategically work towards the internationalization of scholars’ research projects and careers. 

The network met annually in three years to discuss trends in international historical research and to work to improve the draft manuscripts of the early career scholars. The early career researchers were all at a stage where they had acquired great familiarity and detailed knowledge of their fields, with dissertations at their final stage or just accepted. They now needed develop their work further, publish in well high-quality journals and publishing houses, and acquire solid international academic networks. About 75 manuscripts were discussed and a large percentage were published, many in prestigious outlets.


The network had three main objectives. It aimed to: 

  • stimulate reflections upon the subject of contemporary international history and increase our understanding of important historical processes of the twentieth century.
  • support the publishing activities of the early-career scholars.
  • further qualifying women to academic careers. 


In 2006, The Research Council of Norway (RCN) established a committee to evaluate the quality of historical research carried out by Norway’s four main universities and four of the university colleges. 

The RCN evaluation report

The Evaluation committee consisted of five Nordic historians, Professors Bo Stråth, Anette Warring, Dorthe Gert Simonsen, Thomas Lindkvist and Nils Erik Villstrand. In spring 2008, the committee submitted its report, entitled Beyond the Nation in Time and Space: Power of the Past and Prospects of the Future in Norwegian Historical Research (our translation). 

Main findings were that historical research holds a strong position in Norwegian public debate, and that there is a high demand for academic research. The bulk of Norwegian historical research, however, is in the vein of what the report terms ‘methodological nationalism.’ This defines a tendency among Norwegian historians to conceive of, carry out, and also disseminate their research projects and findings within the confines of a national framework.

Most projects rely upon the nation state as their frame of reference regarding collection of material and analysis, and there is also limited dissemination of results to international audiences. While the evaluation does not criticize the focus on Norwegian history as such, it encourages a more international, comparative approach, which would consider topics in Norwegian history within a larger, international context.

The evaluation committee’s report furthermore argues that ‘there is an urgent need for a more realistic, non-teleological theoretical reflection on time and space. Historiography can make a major contribution in that respect through a focused problematization of temporal and spatial borders under reflection on the connections between continuities and discontinuities and on the complex connections between local, regional, national, international and global borders.’

The committee believes that Norwegian historians may contribute to such a development, however ‘a convincing contribution would require a more explicit discussion of strategies and priorities and stronger methodological and theoretical connections of the empirical research items. A stronger historical agenda setting, with problematization of main stream political, social and economic theories, could lead to a realization of an under-exploited potential in Norwegian professional historical research.’

How application for OCIHN meet the reports main critizisms  

In view of the evaluation committee’s report, the Oslo Contemporary International History Network (OCIHN) was designed to contribute through adressing the following problems: 

  1. The ‘methodological nationalism,’ highlighted by the evaluation report and exemplified by the tendency of Norwegian historians to focus on ’Norwegian’ topics, within the parameters of the nation state, may impose unfortunate methodological limitations. This project proposes a transnational approach to historical research, moving beyond the traditional boundaries of the nation state through a greater use of comparison and/or a more international, global view on historical development, carried out within a global community of scholars.
  2. Furthermore, the methodological nationalism also entails a limited participation of Norwegian historians in ongoing historical debates through contributions to refereed journals or publishers with international readership. This project will encourage increased publication in international journals.
  3. The evaluation emphasizes that the field of economic history has not been sufficiently prioritized. The project will encourage increased emphasis on economic history.
  4. The evaluation points out that only three out of ten Norwegian historians at the evaluated institutions are women, and that the gender gap does not seem to be decreasing. The project aims to include female scholars in professional networks.


The main activity of the network was its annual conferences:

  • 'International Organizations and Institutions: Past Experiences and Future Prospects', Oslo, August 2010.
  • 'Age of Extremes: Economic Stability and Crises in the Twentieth Century', Trondheim, August 2011. 
  • 'The Civilizer of Nations? International Norms in the Twentieth Century History', Bergen, August 2012.

The seminars have had public sessions with general discussions, and closed working sessions where we discussed draft articles or book chapters presented by the early career researchers. Pod casts of the public sessions were linked from the seminar programs.


The Research Council of Norway.




  • Allers, Robin M. "Attacking the sacred Cow. The Norwegian Challenge to the EC’s Acquis Communautaire in the Enlargement Negotiations of 1970-72", Journal of European Integration History, 16/2 (2010), pp. 59-82
  • Barth, Volker. ”Die Genese globaler Nachrichtenagenturen. Überlegungen zu einem Forschungsprogramm”, WerkstattGeschichte 56 (2011), pp. 63-75.
  • Braut-Hegghammer, Målfrid. Revisiting Osirak: Preventive Attacks and Nuclear Proliferation RisksInternational Security, Vol. 36, No. 1, Summer 2011, pp. 101-132.
  • Doherty, Megan "A Guardian to Literature and its Cousins: The Early Politics of the PEN Club," Letterkunde Vol 15, Issue 4, 2011.
  • Forclaz, Amalia Ribi. ‘A New Target for International Social Reform. The International Labour Organisation and Working and Living Conditions in Agriculture in the Interwar Years’, Journal of Contemporary European History, Vol. 20 (2011), pp. 307-329.
  • Frey, Marc and Sönke Kunkel, “Writing the History of Development. A Review of the Recent Literature”, Contemporary European History, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 215-232.
  • Gram-Skjoldager,  “Bringing the Diplomat Back in. Elements of a New Historical Research Agenda”, EUI Working Paper nr. 13/2011, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute.
  • Gram-Skjoldager, Karen. “Never Talk to Strangers? On Political Scientists, Historians and the Study of Diplomacy in the EC/EU”. Diplomacy and Statecraft vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 696-714.
  • Grift, Liesbeth van de. Securing the Communist State: The Reconstruction of Coercive Institutions in the Soviet Zone of Germany and Romania, 1944-1948. The Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series. (Lanham: Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011).
  • Hammerborg, Morten, 'The laboratory and the clinic revisited: The Introduction of Laboratory Medicine into the Bergen General Hospital, Norway' Social Medicine of History 24 (2011), 3, pp. 758-775.
  • Haug, Hilde Katrine. Creating A Socialist Yugoslavia: Tito, Communist Leadership and the National Question International Library of Twentieth Century History, Vol. 24 (I.B. Tauris, 2011).
  • Lagendijk, Vincent. “‘To Consolidate Peace’? The International Electro-Technical Community and the Grid for the United States of Europe,” Journal of Contemporary History Issue 47, Number 2 (2012), pp. 402-426.
  • Maul, Daniel R. Human Rights, Development and Decolonization - The International Labour Organization, 1940-1970, ILO Century Series, (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave, 2012)
  • Olsen, Niklas. ‘Carl Schmitt, Reinhart Koselleck and the foundations of history and politics.’ History of European Ideas, Vol. 37, Issue 2, June 2011, pp. 197-208.
  • Rietzler, Katharina. 'Of Highways, Turntables, and Mirror Mazes: Metaphors of Americanisation in the History of American Philanthropy.' Diplomacy & Statecraft, Volume 24, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 117-133.
  • Unger, Corinna R. “Histories of Development and Modernization: Findings, Reflections, Future Research”, H-Soz-u-Kult, December 9, 2010.
  • Vik, Hanne Hagtvedt. 'How Constitutional Concerns Framed the US Contribution to the International Human Rights Regime From Its Inception, 1947–53.' International History Review, Vol. 34, No. 4 (2012), s 887- 909.
  • Vogt, Carl Emil. ‘Biologisk humanisme. Sosialevolusjonisme i Fridtjof Nansens internasjonale engagement’, ARR idéhistorisk tidsskrift (2012).
  • Barth, Volker. ’Making the wire speak. Transnational techniques of journalism, 1860-1930,’ in: Hampf, Michaela and Simone Müller-Pohl (ed.) Global communication electric. (Frankfurt: Campus, 2013).
  • Barth, Volker. ‘Structures and Conditions of International Communication, 1859-1934’ in Boyd Rayward (ed.): Information beyond borders (London: Ashgate, 2013).
  • Ekberg, Espen. ‘Confronting three revolutions: Western European consumer co-operatives and their divergent development, 1950-2008’, Business History, (Vol. 54, Issue 7, 2012).
  • Gram-Skjoldager, Karen. 'The re-invention of Danish Internationalism. The Danish Internationalist Elite and the League of Nations, 1920-1925' (Forthcoming, Journal of Scandinavian History).
  • Grift, Liesbeth van de. 'On New Land a New Society: Internal Colonisation in the Netherlands, 1918-1940' (Contemporary European History).
  • Heian-Engdal, Marte, Jørgen Jensehaugen and Hilde Henriksen Waage. ‘Finishing the Enterprise: Israel’s Admission to the United Nations’ International History Review (2013).
  • Maul, Daniel: “Silent Army of Representatives”. Amerikanische NGOs und die Entstehung internationalen Mechanismen humanitärer Hilfe 1917-1939, in: Christoph Meyer /Sönke Kunkel, Dimensionen des Aufbruchs. Die 1920er und 1930er Jahre in globaler Perspektive, Frankfurt am Main 2012, 105-123.
  • Olsen, Niklas. "Liberalismens revitalisering og afkulturalisering, 1945-1970", in Niklas Olsen, Jeppe Nevers and Casper Sylvest (ed.), Dansk liberalisme i internationalt perspektiv, (Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2012).
  • Storli, Espen. 'The Global Race for Bauxite, 1900-1940’ in Bauxite, State and Society, edited by Robin Gendron, Mats Ingulstad and Espen Storli (British Columbia Press, 2013).
  • Unger, Corinna R. 'The Decolonization of Development: Indian Development Strategies after 1947', in The End of Empires? Cold War, Colonial States, and Trajectories of Development, ed. Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo (Lisbon, 2013).
  • Weisbrode, Kenneth. ‘Contours of the New Diplomacy’ in Hagen Schulz-Forberg (ed), (2012).
  • Weisbrode, Kenneth. ‘Contending Regionalisms in/of the West’. (American Historical Association).
Published Nov. 11, 2020 2:47 PM - Last modified Apr. 25, 2022 10:33 AM