Sweden has not been involved in warfare for almost two centuries and has not been the scene of serous ethnic clashes. Thus, Sweden during conflicts in its part of the world, if anything, would play the role of host to exiles. Norway has a similar historical background, with the exception of being involved in World War II. Estonia’s corresponding experience is rather the opposite one.
The “sea change” (Hughes) of 1933-1945 produced a pattern of migration where a number of scholars, and politicians, were “passing-by-exiles” in a number of countries before most of them ended up in the USA. The 1940/1945-1989 waves of exiles from East and Central Europe, and the Baltic nations, tentatively show a pattern where the refugees stay on in the country to which they initially came. There are reasons why the 1933-1945 period produced passing-by exiles; foremost, of course, the fact that the advancing German military machine gradually and drastically reduced the possible safe havens, whereas this was not the case 1940/1945-1989.
However, there is also reason to reflect on the character and effect of the scholarly, social, and political environments in smaller and in bigger countries to which refugees came. When a refugee came to a certain country during the 1933-1945 period, and not knowing what would happen from year to year, month to month (perhaps one could stay on?), there was reason to reflect on the possibilities to carry on work, to establish scholarly and political activities in the country, to which one had come. How to evaluate and balance the status of scholarly environments, political bases, and, of course, general safety?
The idea here is, first, to use the experiences of some noted scholars and politicians, who passed by Sweden, and some also Norway (e.g. Ernst Cassirer, Willy Brandt, Roman Jakobson, Bruno Kreisky), and put these into the context of the literature on scholars and politicians passing by other countries in Europe. Secondly, to study the experience of 1940/45-1989 exiles; here, primarily Estonians, most of whom came to Sweden during the final years of WWII. One may mention here, that one person could figure, more or less, in both groups; i.e. Estonian politician and lawyer August Rei.
My own earlier work relevant to this further study emanates, on the one hand, from an earlier research project, with US scholars Rogers Hollingsworth and Jerald Hage, “The Impact of Institutional Arrangements on Major Discoveries in Bio-Medical research”, in which a large collection of data on an extended Nobel population (winners, prizeworthy, and frequently nominated) served to identify creative research organizations. A number of these scholars fit the 1933-1945 pattern mentioned above. Their careers illuminate the first task mentioned above. An example is given in my article “Inside the Nobel Committee on medicine. Prize competition procedures 1901-1950 and the fate of Carl Neuberg”, Minerva, 39, 2001. On the other hand, my essay – in Swedish – “Makt och vetenskap i små och stora stater” [Power and scholarship in small and big states] as well as study of small nations’ participation at the World Historical Congresses, give some theoretical support.
Now, as may be seen from the sketch above, this is work still at a rather early stage, so I would certainly appreciate the input from participants at the conference, particularly regarding the Baltic-Scandinavian contexts.
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