Separation Scandinavian style (or, this would never happen in South Asia)
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Separation Scandinavian style (or, this would never happen in South Asia)

The dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden is well known for being one of two completely peaceful secessions in the 20th century (the Velvet Divorce in Czechoslovakia was the other). This is interesting enough.

But what’s even more interesting is this website on the separation, Project 1905, named after the date of the separation. Check this out from the about section:

The 1905 website was the brainchild of Project 1905 and has been set up through close collaboration with the National Library of Norway, the National Archives of Sweden and Norway, the Royal Library in Stockholm and many others. Project 1905 is working on an extensive, diverse historical marking of the centenary jubilee of the dissolution of the union, including book projects and a range of events and exhibitions in addition to the internet productions.

I find this charming. Scandinavian countries are often used as shorthand for utopia on earth, what with their generous welfare system, strong economies, stable political systems, liberal values, and beautiful people. I myself use some variant of the phrase “We’re not going to be Sweden but at least [fill in the blank]” all the time.

But this stuff is another level. For the National Library of Norway and the National Archives of Sweden to be working in tandem on a project like this is very strange. Historical events crossing national boundaries are almost always contested along national lines. They’re certainly contested along statist lines.



We in South Asia know this firsthand. Pakistan has been involved in two partitions. I can safely say the standard, mainstream interpretations in India and Pakistan differ significantly on the events of 1947. Ditto Bangladesh (and India) vs Pakistan for 1971.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t foresee any official joint historical projects coming out of South Asia on either partition. Call me crazy.

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