About methodological nationalism and the communicative situation. Critique and an alternative
Historisk Tidsskrift 04/2012 (p 490-510)
While historians were central in interpreting the national breakthrough in Norway in the late 19th century, and in creating the national story about the working class’s entry within the centre of the state system in the first half of the 20th century, the dominant practice of Norwegian history has largely been marginal and shown little interest in interpreting the third great wave in Norwegian modern history; namely the impact of what can be called the «international breakthrough» and the globalization process on Norway’s development over recent decades. How this historiographic situation is understood and explained will affect the ability of the Norwegian historical community for self-reflection, and the theoretical, methodological and conceptual choices historians will make. The article discusses the fruitfulness of the term «methodological nationalism», which the Norwegian Research Council through its evaluation of Norwegian historical research has launched to raise awareness of this situation. It shows that the concept is not fruitful – for theoretical, empirical and conceptual reasons – if the goal is a balanced reflection of the development of historical studies and of methodological conventions and opportunities. The article promotes a different, less politicized, historiographic interpretation and discusses another term and an alternative method that might help historians explore the development of societies in new and more fruitful ways, including the nation’s development.
Keywords: communicative situation, globalization, historiography, methodological nationalism.