The State of Women’s History in Denmark

  • Nanna Damsholt


It is a characteristic feature of Danish research in women’s history — just as it is a characteristic feature of all Danish research in the humanities — that it does not take place in ivory towers but, for better or for worse, grows and flourishes in the open. It is influenced not only by what happens in research at universities, but also by what happens in society at a global as well as at a national level. In Denmark, university-based women’s history is primarily attached to the humanities, that is, to Faculties of Arts, and this is, for the time being, not an advantageous position. Because of the current economic situation in Denmark, there is a general cutback in state funding. This general retrenchment particularly affects that part of the state budget allocated to research in the humanities, because this kind of research is not expected to benefit business or promote exports. As a consequence, scholars in the humanities, and among them women historians, have to spend quite a lot of time and energy on legitimising their work and making themselves visible in order to survive professionally. We feel we are required to prove that history is useful and are encouraged to write in an immediately comprehensible way to reach as wide an audience as possible. Our research is expected to be of current interest and exciting to read, not dry as dust. This challenge is, at one and the same time, both paralysing and stimulating, and the demands that are being made are legitimate as well as illegitimate. On principle I dissociate myself from the idea that the humanities need to prove themselves useful. To know one’s history is part of human life and need not be judged on its utility. It is a human right more than an asset.


Danish Woman Danish Research Mature Woman Current Economic Situation History Curriculum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Karen Offen, Ruth Roach Pierson, Jane Rendall 1991

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  • Nanna Damsholt

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