Programs and Projects

Historians Without Borders aims to promote historical awareness, debate and the use of historical information for conflict prevention and resolution. We have developed methods, such as History Dialogues, to address, deconstruct or, where possible, reconcile different or opposing understandings of history. Our projects have also addressed issues such as the visibility of minorities in history education.

We regularly organise events where we address current and social issues from a historical perspective. Our events are open to anyone interested in history. If you have ideas for future events, please feel free to contact us.

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Our projects

In 2018, Finland commemorated the events of the Civil War a hundred years ago. During the year, numerous debates, seminars and panel discussions were organised on the topic. In addition, 1918 was explored through art in numerous exhibitions and performances around the country. In September 2018, we organised a dialogue event where we gave expert input to participants and shifted the focus from listening to discussion. Together with the associations Työväenkirjaston Ystävät ry and Vapaus Valita Toisin ry, we also organised a discussion on new literature on the 1918 Civil War. We ended the Civil War commemoration year in January 2019 with an event where we discussed how the commemoration of the Civil War has been reflected in art, culture and media, and how the commemoration year in general was celebrated. How did official Finland remember the Civil War? What issues have been emphasised in the commemoration and what aspects have been neglected?
What do we really know about the history of epidemics and what lessons can be learned from past epidemics? As the Covid-19 pandemic raged on, we launched a campaign to collect questions from the public and answers from historians about plagues of the past (in Finnish). A couple of years earlier in 2018, we collected questions from the public about the Civil War and sought answers. What should the conflict that started on 27 January 1918 be called and what are the meanings behind the different names given to the events? What happened in the spring, who fought and for what purpose?
The Working Group on Colonialism is a network that focuses on the history and legacy of colonialism in Finland and internationally. The working group consists of historians, students and other people interested in and researching the subject. The working group develops and organises topical events and other activities on the subject. The working group has organised events on topics such as colonialism in the Finnish border regions, relations between Finland and Namibia, the history of the Sámi people, the legacy of colonialism in the Nordic countries and development cooperation. In 2018, in cooperation with The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), we organised a seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we discussed how historians interpret the legacy of colonialism in former colonial countries and colonial powers. The aim of the working group is to advance the knowledge of the history of colonialism and current historical research on the subject. Do you have an idea for activities of the working group? Contact us at
In the "Whose History?" project, we collected information on how colonialism is treated in history education. We conducted a survey to find out how colonial issues are taught in history subjects at Finnish universities and how widespread the interest in dealing with these issues is among students and researchers. Is colonialism seen as a separate phenomenon from Finnish history? How much is the history of Finnish minorities covered in the teaching? A report on the results of the survey was published on 24.10.2018 at the Old Student House in Helsinki. The report was produced by the Working Group on Colonialism within Historians without Borders. The report was also commented by Mona Eid of the Brown Girls, Yusuf M. Mubarak of the Finnish-Somali Society, Leif Hagert of the Roma Youth Council and the Cultura Foundation.
We produce our own reports and studies on historical research and other current historical topics. In 2016, we also published an anthology on the Use and Abuse of History. Read more about our publications!
Different interpretations of history are often at the root of today's political and social debates and conflicts. Historians Without Borders has developed a method of historical dialogue for dealing with the conflicts of collective memory. The key principles of a History Dialogue is the equal status of participants, the possibility of presenting the views of all participants on an equal footing, and the acceptance that the dialogue may result, for example, in the recognition of the plurality of views. In History Dialogues, it is essential to listen actively to the participants' stories, questions and objections to their own narratives. The aim is not to decide who is right, but to broaden the picture of the diversity of interpretations of historical experiences and also to question one's own perceptions of the history of one's own reference group. A dialogue on history can help to resolve conflicts about the past that may be straining relations between or within communities, thus enabling cooperation that builds for the future. The aim of the dialogue is to increase knowledge and understanding of the issue at stake among the participants and to disseminate this knowledge to the wider society. Overall, the aim is to help communicate past experiences and pain points, and to defuse tensions arising from history. Historians Without Borders has organised history dialogues with Ukrainian and Russian historians (2017) and between Nordic and Belarusian historians (2020). In 2018, we organised a series of dialogue debates on the pain points of the Finnish Civil War. In autumn 2023, we will organise a Finnish-Estonian history dialogue on the similarities and differences between the concepts of history in Finland and Estonia. We are constantly seeking to develop new themes that would be fruitful to address through the history dialogue method.

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00014 Helsingin yliopisto

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