Susanna Erlandsson

Postdoctoral position at Department of History

+4618-471 7129
018-471 1528
Visiting address:
Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 A

Postal address:
Box 628
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

Researcher with a special interest in how conceptual frameworks influence the study of past international relations. Wrote the award-winning comparative dissertation Window of opportunity. Dutch and Swedish security ideas and strategies 1942–1948 (2015). Currently working on the postdoctoral project "Behind the scenes: how non-officials and personal politics helped shape the post-war world, 1940–1958", focusing on the role of gender, trust, and personal relations in diplomatic practices.

Keywords: foreign policy new diplomatic history gender and international relations 20th century western diplomacy personal trust and ir

I got my master's degree in modern history from the University of Amsterdam in 1998 and also did a one-year American Studies Diploma Program at Smith College, MA, USA. After graduating, I worked as an editor, among others, before returning to the academic world as a PhD student in 2010.

In May 2015 I got my PhD in history from Uppsala University. My dissertation, a comparison of Dutch and Swedish security ideas and strategies 1942–1948, showed (among other things) that the policies of neutrality and alliance were not as diametrically opposed as one might think and that the goals behind the two countries' different security policy choices were remarkably similar. It was awarded the yearly Westin-prize for best dissertation in history by the Royal Humanistic Science Society in Uppsala, the triennial Uppsala University Geijer-prize for best dissertation in history, and an award for deserving scholarly work from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

After finishing my PhD, I held a temporary position as Senior Lecturer at the History Department of Uppsala University from August 2015 to January 2017. Since August 2017, the Swedish Research Council funds my position as International Postdoctoral Researcher at Uppsala University, with Visiting Research Fellowships at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Netherlands (2017–2019) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the United Kingdom (2018/19). I continue to look for ways to improve and refine more nuanced conceptual frameworks for studying the history of international relations. My current project tackles the question of how personal relations, diplomatic culture and gender norms influenced diplomatic work and, ultimately, foreign policy decisions in the 1940s and 1950s.

Behind the scenes: how non-officials and personal politics helped shape the post-war world, 1940–1958

My current research project focuses on the political culture of the Western community of diplomats in the eventful years 1940–1958. Much of the scholarship on how the post-war world was built has dealt only with decisionmakers’ public lives, overlooking that diplomats’ personal relationships and social networks probably had a powerful effect on policy. This project uses an in-depth case study of one well-connected diplomatic couple as a way to link the concept of political culture to the history of international relations in a gender-conscious way. Dutch diplomat Eelco van Kleffens was involved in many of the big post-war projects like the UN and NATO. His personal archive and his wife Margaret’s extensive diaries offer detailed insight into everyday diplomatic culture. With techniques and approaches drawn from network theory, gender history and cultural history, these materials allow the mapping of elusive practices on the border between public and private, secret and official, male and female. The study will deliver a fresh view of how the post-war world was built in practice. It highlights actors who do not appear in public records and are often overlooked in the history of international relations, and creates knowledge about the behind-the-scenes processes and connections that influenced political decision-making.

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Susanna Erlandsson