Pilgrims and Missionaries of Social Peace: Geneva and Pontigny as Sites of Scandinavian Internationalism in Late Interwar Europe


  • Andreas Mørkved Hellenes Aarhus University




internationalism, social democracy, Nordism, worker's education, cultural encounters


This article investigates two interlinked sites of Scandinavian socialist internationalism in continental Europe: the Nordic folk high school in Geneva and the humanistic centre created by French philosopher Paul Desjardins in Pontigny. Locating and situating these two nodes on the cultural-political map of late interwar Europe allows for a study of how actors from the popular movements in Denmark, Norway and Sweden mobilised educational ideals and practices to internationalise the experience of Scandinavian social democracy. The analysis shows how the transnational activities of the Nordic folk high school’s study course opened up new spaces for Scandinavian internationalism. In this way, the article argues, the school represented an experiment in internationalism from below where Nordism was deployed as a cultural strategy to create international understanding for working-class Scandinavians; and created new arenas for Nordic encounters with French political and intellectual milieus that admired Scandinavian democracy and social peace.

Author Biography

Andreas Mørkved Hellenes, Aarhus University

Postdoctoral Researcher