Ida Blom: Interviewed by the AHA

Historians in the News

[AHA Perspectives] Editor's Note: The AHA's Honorary Foreign Membership, which was first conferred upon Leopold von Ranke in 1886, has since been awarded to 90 other "historians working outside the United States, for their distinguished scholarship and assistance to American scholars working in their country." At the 121st annual meeting of the AHA, the distinction will be conferred upon Ida Blom, who has taught for nearly 40 years at the University of Bergen in Norway. She is a leading scholar of the history of women and gender in Europe and has a worldwide reputation as an active exponent of the uses of gender to interpret social and political change in a global context. She kindly agreed to have an extended e-mail conversation with Alice Kessler-Harris, professor of history at Columbia University and a member of the AHA's Council, to discuss the state of gender history—in Scandinavia in particular and across the globe in general. We present below the text of their exchanges.

Alice Kessler-Harris: Let's begin by talking a little bit about your early beginnings as a historian. How did you become interested in international, or global history?

Ida Blom: Coming from Copenhagen, settling in Bergen, Norway, and passing my masters and doctorate at the University of Bergen, I was interested in historical relations between Denmark and Norway. My doctoral thesis treated a dispute between these two countries during the 1920s and 1930s about sovereignty over part of Eastern Greenland. The dispute, which dates back to the period of Danish sovereignty over Norway (1389–1814), finally ended at the International Court in The Hague, and Denmark won.

So here was a small beginning of my interest in international history. It grew with teaching courses on international relations between 1700 and 1950. But otherwise I turned my interests toward how, in a democratic society, ideas and opinions were funneled from the "common people" to political parties and governments, through civil society, interest organizations, and pressure groups....

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