Wednesday 4 April 2018 8.30 - 10.30F-1 - CRI01 : Collective Confrontations: Studies from a Nordic Perspective
MAP/OG/006 Maths and Physics
The decades following World War II are often described as a period of stability and tranquillity in Swedish history, with a low degree of collective confrontations. However, this view is contradicted by a chain of violent events taking place from the end of the 1940’s and up until the mid-1960’s, ... (Show more)
The decades following World War II are often described as a period of stability and tranquillity in Swedish history, with a low degree of collective confrontations. However, this view is contradicted by a chain of violent events taking place from the end of the 1940’s and up until the mid-1960’s, in Stockholm as well as other major Swedish cities. These events, never systematically researched in Swedish historiography, were large-scale collective confrontations between, on one hand, the police, and on the other, mainly (but not only) young persons and adolescents. In the medial and political debate, they were soon describes as ”youth riots”.
Two things make these confrontations especially interesting from an historical, scholarly point of view. First, as we argue in or article, they were instrumental in shaping the modern, post-war category of ”teenagers” and ”youths” as a social group in need of certain politics, or ”youth politics”. Second, the participants in these events – which took place for days and sometimes even weeks – did not raise and articulate any specific political demands or made any explicit claims. This puzzled contemporary observers in politics and media: what did these young brawlers want? What did they protest against?
This should puzzle us as historical researchers as well, since it makes “youth riots” hard to interpret using the theoretical tools most often provided by the tradition of “contentious politics studies”. Above all, “contentious politics” is usually defined as a collective confrontation where explicit claims and political demands are made and directed against governments. But such claims seems to be absent in the case of “youth riots”. Is it at all possible to categorize post-war “youth riots” as “contentious politics”, as the term is usually defined in this theoretical tradition? The aim of our article is to discuss this question, and thereby testing the theoretical potentials as well as the limits of “contentious politics studies”.
We will do this by making a case study of the first major “youth riot” taking place in Stockholm, namely the so called “Easter Riots” in 1948. In our analysis, we conclude that some theoretical tools from the field of “contentious politics studies” can be used in the study of “youth riots”: they were, for example, part of a “strong repertoire” of contentious actions, since similar “youth riots” occurred in many Western-European and Nordic countries in approximately the same time. But they cannot, we argue, be described as “contentious politics” as the term is traditionally defined. Therefore, other concepts have to be used if we are to interpret these events and understand the mechanisms that made them happen. Finally, we suggest that historical scholars turn to some concepts developed in research of modern day “suburban riots” for inspiration, such as, e.g., “unruly politics”. In the meeting between the disciplines of history, critical sociology and cultural geography, so we argue, there may be a potential for developing theoretical tools that can be used to understand “youth riots” and other historical collective confrontations as well. (Show less)
Anne Hedén : State Visit and Stone Throwing: the Protests against Finnish White Regent Mannerheim in Stockholm in 1919
The subject of my paper is an analysis of the left wing manifestations and violent confrontations with the police in February 1919 in Stockholm during the state visit of general Mannerheim, then the regent of Finland and also the victorious military leader of the White side in the civil war ... (Show more)
The subject of my paper is an analysis of the left wing manifestations and violent confrontations with the police in February 1919 in Stockholm during the state visit of general Mannerheim, then the regent of Finland and also the victorious military leader of the White side in the civil war of 1918. Mannerheim, on visit to discuss the Åland question, showed up in full uniform, wearing the White armband of the civil war, there by signaling no conciliatory tendencies whatsoever towards the losing side at home. His hosts, the liberal-socialist government, were not pleased, (the Swedish king was, however, courteous) and the radical protesters, dubbed ‘Zätapojkar’ (Zäta boys) in one of the conservative papers, protested by throwing stones at the police forces protecting Mannerheim. The protesters also distributed a leaflet in which the Finnish general was labeled a bloodthirsty monster. Seven of the protesters were put to trial, with ten policemen witnessing for the prosecution, later on in March. The confrontations, which included a protest march of 2000 workers, and as mentioned, numerous clashes between the police and protesters, were covered by both right wing and left wing news media. An examination of how the clashes between police and protesters were described might shed some light on a process where the Swedish left wing social democrats, who in 1919 joined the Third International and who were eventually to become the Swedish communist party, seems to gradually have developed a more militant attitude in their political practice. Also, the bourgeois domination in the public sphere was during this period increasingly challenged: a little less than a year earlier, the movement to support White Finland was a very dominant feature in the public arena, for example when a state funeral service was arranged in late April 1918, for some of the Swedish White volunteers killed in Finland. Their coffins were paraded through the streets of Stockholm to the cathedral (Storkyrkan ) in the Old Town, a procession that gathered a spectacular amount of sympathetic bystanders – only interspersed with a few Red supporters, who were chased away, or ordered off by the police. This change in attitudes in the public discourse, reaching down, even, to street fighting level, can be explained by several factors. The aim in this text is to figure out how the changes in the political landscape in Europe and Russia interacted with the domestic sphere and to use the street protests against Mannerheim as an example in this process. (Show less)
Matias Kaihovirta : The Culture of Contestation and the Formation of Modern Politics Among Ironworkers in Early 20th century Finland
This article addresses the rise of contentious politics in early 20th century Finland by focusing on the ironworkers and the social relations in a small village called Billnäs in southern Finland. Billnäs was an ironwork community (in Swedish “brukssamhälle”) founded in the 17th century. The interdependent relationship between the patron ... (Show more)
This article addresses the rise of contentious politics in early 20th century Finland by focusing on the ironworkers and the social relations in a small village called Billnäs in southern Finland. Billnäs was an ironwork community (in Swedish “brukssamhälle”) founded in the 17th century. The interdependent relationship between the patron and the company on one side, and the ironworkers on the other was built on a mutual understanding – a social contract – largely determined by the social order at the time. Due to the influence of democratic ideas and the rise of a modern industrial capitalism
challenged this paternalistic social order in small rural communities. Although protests were uncommon in the ironwork community, ironworkers were
able to resist and challenge the elite by conducting different forms of everyday
resistance. A change occurred both in Billnäs and in Finland in early 20th century, when the both rural and urban working classes begun to openly contest the ruling elite in society. Using micro-history as a methodological approach, this article aims to illuminate the transformation of the political repertoire among the rural poor in Finland, from a hidden agenda of contestation to the rise of contentious politics in the early 20th century. The study addresses the following questions: which forms of contestation and everyday resistance did the ironworkers use and draw upon in their political activity? What were the underlying cultural patterns for the ironworker’s political activism? By studying political activism from below, this article uses different sources in order to puzzle a coherent picture of the ironworker’s cultural patterns and agency with the help of theoretical concepts from previous studies done by such scholars as E. P. Thompson and James C. Scott. The concept “cultural contestation” which addresses the political culture of the rural poor is to be seen as the forms of resistance and opposition against the ruling elite. In exceptional occasions, for example during local turmoil or large-scale national conflicts, the contestation was transformed in to public protest. In rural societies, according to researchers as Luigi Lombardi-Satriani and Sami Suodenjoki, the culture of contestation is usually found in folklore, oral history, or manifested in the forms of everyday resistance. This micro-historical study addresses upon the less known history of politics from below among the rural poor – not only in Finland – in the Nordic region in early 20th century which coincided with the rise of modern politics and the socialist labour movement. The article aims to contribute both new historical understandings of political activism from below but also discuss historiography and theory of popular politics in a Nordic context. (Show less)