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Danish Journalists in Allied Service in Britain and their Transnational Networks, 1940-1945

Carlsberg Foundation Visiting Fellowships at University of Oxford


What

My project is about Danish journalists who worked for the Allies in Britain, 1940-1945, specifically with producing propaganda, maintaining links to Danish resistance and ultimately, representing a Danish perspective to the Allies, while Denmark's government collaborated with the Germans. I have two objectives: First, I aim to provide a description of the work of this small group of Danes in the Allied war effort including the extent to which its members established transnational relations to other Europeans. Second, I aim to describe how this group, a majority of which became influential voices in Danish postwar society such as editors in chiefs and diplomats, drew on their transnational experience when shaping their postwar ideas about international politics, 1945-1980.

Why

My project provides, for the first time, a systematic study of the work of Danish journalists in the service of British institutions of warfare, 1940-1945, and pledges to lift the historical scholarship on Danish resistance out of its national confines by employing a multi-archival and transnational methodology. The year 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, and at the same time, public discussions of “fake news” have brought new attention to the role of traditional journalism in society. On this background, I analyze a part of Scandinavian history of the press which has not been analyzed before, insert it into a European transnational historiography and examine its ideological legacy using insights from intellectual history and sociology.

How

Drawing on experience in multi-archival research and in analyzing internationalized professional networks of people in interwar Europe, I base the project on archival material from the National Archives in Copenhagen, the BBC Written Archives in Reading and the National Archives in London. Mapping the network of journalists, I draw on ideas from Social Network Analysis (SNA) from sociology. Additionally, I study postwar publications of the exiled Danish journalists to analyze how they shaped postwar internationalist sentiments. In this analysis, I draw on theories on the formation of political ideology. Finally, to insert the case into a Scandinavian perspective, I discuss my findings in comparison with research on Norwegian journalists in London in the same period.

SSR

The project is valuable to society in the long term for several reasons. First, it sharpens the current discussion about the idea of a conflict between elites who believe in a "postwar liberal world order" on the one hand, and common citizens of nation-states on the other and examines the historical ascendance of the former. It brings into the equation the fact that these people were often devoted to their national backgrounds and thus did not necessarily see one loyalty ("the international") excluding another ("the national"). Second, it adresses the current challenges facing traditional journalism and shows the complexities of what happens when journalists have to configure their devotion to truth with the call to defend democracy against its challengers.