A member of the Institute of History and Western Civilization, Odense University, I would like to introduce myself: Tore Nyberg, born 1931 in Uppsala, Sweden, fil.dr. at Lund University in Sweden in 1965. Since my appointment at the University of Odense in 1970, I have been working exclusively with mediaeval history, European as well as Scandinavian, such as monasticism, especially that of St. Birgitta of Sweden; urban history, (cf. XVII. Nordiske Historikermoete, Trondheim 1977), together with editorial and other activities in Dansk Komité for Byhistorie (Danish Committee for Urban History); Christianization of Scandinavia, (cf. Die Kirche in Skandinavien, Sigmaringen: Thorbecke 1986), on the church history of Adam of Bremen, Odense, and Northern Jutland (a ‘Habilitationsschrift’ at the University of Augsburg 1981); editorial work in the periodical Mediaeval Scandinavia.
During this 25 year period some basic questions on Scandinavian history have bothered me from time to time. I could give an idea of them under the title:
Scandinavian history - synchronic?
Suppose you have to deal with the history of two, three or four neighbouring countries that partly share a common history, like Flanders, Holland, Zeeland and Brabant around the Rhine estuary, or Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla on the Korean peninsula. Suppose you begin to question, whether the history of each country or unit always is best understood in diachronical perspective as an independent and self-explanatory sequence in time, when in fact there is enough evidence of connections and parallels between them at any point of time.
Evidently, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland are such neighbours, sharing a common language, always being in touch with each other, and yet notoriously producing national histories without an end.
Two questions come to the surface:
The fact that Saxo already in the 12th century made Dan the founder of the reign of the Danes, while the Norwegians had Olaf as their primary cultural ancestor, after they and the Swedes had to give up being heirs of Odin, indicates the beginning of the supremacy of national histories over what might have developed into some kind of a ‘History of the North’. Ericus Olai and Olaus Magnus followed the same path, which finally brought independent Finland into a position to start rewriting the history of the ‘Oesterland’ into the history of Finland.
A synchronic perspective upon Scandinavian history to my understanding would imply the notion that decision-making in all these countries always took into account what the neighbours said and did. But can such a perspective justifyably be kept and preserved all through an entire epoch? Are these not just moments of a rare constellation, soon to be followed by national business according to national considerations - as usual?
Some have tried to write ‘Nordic history’. In Denmark, Peter Ilsoee's Nordens Historie from the beginning of this century appeared in a number of editions and prints, but is only partly a succes from the point of view of concomitant treatment of all the five Nordic countries. In 1Sweden, Lars-Arne Norborg and Lennart Sjoestedt wrote Grannlaendernas historia (Lund: Laeromedelsfoerlagen 1970). Recently, Peter Sawyer published Da Danmark blev Danmark (Gyldendals og Politikens Danmarkshistorie 3, Copenhagen 1988), and together with Birgit Sawyer: Naer Sverige blev Sverige (Alingsaas: Viktoria 1991); the structural similarity of the two titles hints at the problem. (Is it polemics, when Carl Fredrik Hallencreutz published Naer Sverige blev europeiskt. Till fraagan om Sveriges kristnande, Stockholm: Natur och Kultur 1993 - ?) Cf. T. K. Derry, A History of Scandianvia. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, London: Allen & Unwin 1979, and Peter and Birgit Sawyer, Medieval Scandinavia. From Conversion to Reformation, circa 800-1500 (The Nordic Series 17, University of Minnesota Press 1993).
An answer to this could be an increased regionalism in scholarly research. Some provinces would profit from it, since they already, for so-called ‘historical’ reasons, have their separate history written, as e.g.: Skaane (Goesta Johannesson, Skaanes historia, Stockholm 1971, and idem, Skaane, Halland og Blekinge, Politikkens Danmarkshistorie, Copenhagen 1981), or Jaemtland (Nils Ahnlund, Jaemtlands och Haerjedalens historia I, Stockholm: Norstedts 1945, and Edvard Bull, Jemtland og Norge, 2. ed., Oestersund 1970). But if we look at other provinces like Vaestergoetland, or Dalarna, any effort to write their history would imply constant reference to unified Sweden, just as it would seem to make no sense to write the history of Vestlandet without integrating its importance for the medieval unification of Norway. And who could write the history of Sjaelland without reference to Denmark? Yet, some remarkable examples can be found, as e.g. when Keith Wijkander, Kungshoegar och sockenbildning. Studier i Soedermanlands administrativa indelning under vikingatid och tidig medeltid (Soermlaendska handlingar 39, Nykoeping: Soedermanlands museum 1983) analysed the province of Soedermanland in an epoch for which an autonomous development of that province may justly be assumed - not to speak of studies, emanating from i.a. the Universities of Umeaa and Oulu, on Norrland's and Lapland'a prehistory and early colonization. But does every province - including such regions as Tavastland, Savolax, Karelia in Finland - have some kind of cultural autonomy by which it is entitled to have its own history written? Which criteria are to be used, if one enters the writing of Scandinavian regional history?
The question is, if this all has a future in our history writing - even to the degree of influencing the topics of our research and teaching. I let my interrogation mark go out on the internet and hope that it will touch a problem not only for me. Next to the many detailed issues we would like to exchange on the net, to ponder such a question might be useful.
HISTORY AS COLLECTIVE OBLIVION
Tore Nyberg raised a very topical issue, debated and thought about by many scholars presently: if nation is not the self evident 'place' for historical research what spatial body is?
The debate is not new it has been developed around 'local' since social history came around in the 1960s, but it has a very different setting today when the key metaphor is 'region'. It is impossible to take up the full range of issues on an Internet discussion. I have tried to deal with the Swedish case (typically even in such a study the national space under consideration...) in Regionernas roll i Sveriges historia (Fritzes, 1995).
In short it is my suggestion that Historiography concealed regions, Ethnology culturalized the regional differences and geography eventually functionalised regions as instruments for the building of the unitarian, universalist Welfare state. This is giving the role of knowledge a more prominent role then usual in discussion of place in history which I think is justifiable. And I would like us to be a bit more reflexive on the contemporary role we no doubt should be quite happy, if not comfortable, to play in the debate.
The development of a spatial concept in history focused heavily on the State. It first took place within the conception of Kingdom later administrative or a tax State. When region was recognized it was mainly within a dichotomy of Central Power and Provinces that was feasible when dealing with Ancien Regime, preferably the middle Ages.
The Local - which only in recent years quite suddenly changed into 'region' - has been the most common spatial metaphor often put opposite nation or state (which has been close to synonymous in Swedish language). By social history locality was more of a method, a necessary constraint in dealing with massive influx of quantitative data. Local was interpreted as social, economic and eventually cultural to its character. Central power was on the other hand political, rational, powerful, normative and bureaucratic. In fact Local in this interpretative framework becomes less of a place or a territory - it becomes at most an instance of the process under study.
The one and only real spatial body has been that of the State - and thus even this spatial concept became invisible in its internal territorial dimensions because it did not have to be specified against anything else, except its subjects or foreign powers.
Thus it is not only local or regional levels that are undeveloped in Swedish historical historiography, but also the spatial dimensions of the state as such. The last could also be illustrated in the often observed but less discussed difficulty in dealing with 'Sweden' from 1500-1905; it means dealing with major shifts in the territory. The most often used solution to this problem has been to use today's boarders as the ones delivering the most revealed meaning and destiny of the Swedish nation.
The Nordic historians has been very polite in 'respecting' the borders of the nation state of their University. Danish historians keep their hands of Skaane and Norwegian let Jaemtland alone - mostly, if not always. In turn Swedish historians forget Finland's part in history to a large extent in fear of being seen as imperialists.
Local and regional institutions and cultures was and is part of everyday life, in religious, judicial, political and administrative dimensions and became especially in the 19th century part of the hope for a brighter future - but not for History! Only insofar it affected national parliamentary reforms were they regarded worthy of scholarly attention.
This 'collective oblivion', to paraphrase the recently popular concept 'social memory', for a necessary corollary, had to be created by an active but meandering suppression. Experience and political reality could not be denied straight forward but it could be transformed into a less powerful discourses and overwritten by national history in a complex manoeuvre. The complexity of the process was partly due to the fact that the peasant culture in national ideology had been made the essence of the Nordic/Germanic heritage that dwelled at the foundation of national self-understanding in all the Nordic countries. But it was in itself typically understood as not political - the opposite would have brought the vision to close to the reality of an economic and political viable Estate and class of farmers - what was needed was a cultural interpretation not a political one. Hence it was exclude from history proper, not without fight, to Ethnology.
The developing geographical sciences put much more emphases on Science in a positivistic sense, trying to avoid the enthusiasm of cultural studies in ethnology - and thus in the end became much more powerful in forming politics, creating and moulding the spatial framework of at least the administratively accessible regions in Sweden.
Again there is a new setting that seems to converge different approaches in the cultural sciences today, this time including history, in a study of regions within a constructivist paradigm. The setting is both this powerful epistemological shift and the political issue of 'Who are we'? - no doubt with existential dimensions similar to the uncertainties soon to become deadly certainties in the 19th century.
The answers to this questions are implicitly or explicitly addressed in all historical research. Today it is not so often made in terms of class but rather in gender, race - and regionality - challenges to the old concept of the all embracing nation - but not less ideological then its counterpart!
School of History
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR 4 7TJ
A graduate student of the department of History, University College London, I would like to introduce myself: Kola Krauze, born 1974 in Warsaw, Poland. A-level history under Dr MK Lawson (author of Cnut) in 1992 followed by a BA (first) at University College London in England in 1995. I have just applied to do an MA in Scandinavian Studies (Medieval and West Norse Studies - including emphasis on Swedish). I wrote my BA dissertation under Professor Janet L Nelson (author of Charles the Bald) in the School of Humanities at King's College London: "Ever-changing borders - a study of relations between Charlemagne and Denmark". One of my main interests is the "Danes" to the conversion period.
Comments to Tore Nyberg
In my humble opinion a synchronic approach to history may be the only acceptable one, if one is to see beyond a mere chronology or fact-by-fact list (difficult enough in "dark age" Scandinavia). To take just an example, I would substitute the countries above with Denmark, Norway, Frisia, Sweden, Frankia, merely for my dissertation.
This is a period of history where a chronological approach dealing with one "country" would be impossible, partly due to the paucity of surviving evidence. We *have* to know at least what their neighbours are doing to understand why the people we are focussing on are doing what they are doing, and to be able to make other guesses. Again, there is also a question raised when a good deal of our sources are foreign to the subject. Denmark in Sigfred and his successor Godfred's reigns are only written about in Frankish sources. Earlier heathen rulers, such as "*Ongend" as I called him (*Ongentheow?), are mentioned in hagiography. Without written sources we would know very little about Denmark as we would have only archaeology to go on. The information archaeology has provided us with has only been made possible with a comparison with the written sources. Godfred is a figure linked strongly with the enlargement of the Danevirke. Without the Frankish chronicles we would only know the Danevirke existed. Why was it enlarged? What do these foreign sources say?... who is "uthufrithr" who raised a runestone on the isle of Fyn for a dead woman? The list is endless... if we do not write synchronic history do we discard foreign evidence? If we do not discard foreign evidence (eg Germania) then why would we discard the history of the foreign writers' own countries? We need their history to understand their motives in writing. Or perhaps our histories become like written equivalents of the isolation of those few nations about whom it *might* (and I am not sure it would be feasible) be possible to write in isolation (some periods of China? Albania? - tentative and probably wrong suggestions).
That this question is being posed only shows how attitudes have changed - surely the motives of medieval historians such as Bede, Gregory of Tours, and Saxo, were nationalistic. Witness the archaeological attempts to prove Sweden is the fountainhead nation etc etc untill as late as the early 19th century.
However, although I accept that a general history of "the north" or some such has not really happened yet, most if not all books take heed of at least the geographical neighbours. However...
....I agree. While a country's history may well be very much affected by at least its neighbours, it is highly probable that its leaders took little heed, just as historians in the past took little heed. To look for actual synchronity in the behaviour of historical decision-makers may be to project some sort of an anachronism on their actions.
In the case of Jamtland, a fierce nationalist spirit (taken with varying degrees of seriousness depending on the individual) is part and parcel of that region's history, as, in recent times, has been searching for roots (the rise of popular "teach yourself Jamska" books has proliferated in the shops and museums much in the way that similar pamphlets have been appearing in Cornwall). Anyone witnessing one of Evert Ljusberg's speeches (as I had the occasion to do last year) will know what I mean here. I would further add that such a resurgeance of root-interest usually follows a period of suppression - to stick to the same examples, Jamtland underwent military oppression in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and even as late as the 1970s it was extremely unfashionable to speak in dialect so that the result is that the Jamts who are in their 20s today cannot speak the dialects such as Jamska/Offerdalska/Harjedalska or whatever the reconstructionists choose to call them, while their parents can, and their grandparents in some isolated cases cannot even manage a "Stockholmska"... not that they would want to - they are all, after all, just a bunch of Danes in the south, bleeding the north of its natural resources. In the case of Cornish, the language had to die out before enthusiasts could take it up in a touristy "quaint" folky revival. However, this search for one's roots, which may lead people to write books such as "A history of Jamtland" is symptomatic of a cultural suppression or dilution (in this case from more urbanised Southern Sweden) that in its most benign form turns Celtic Cornwall gently into an extension of South-East England, and in its most extreme form forbids on pain of corporal if not capital punishment the use of native (conquered) tongues by people such as "Red Indians", or Irish or Welsh under English occupation - resulting in a fervent and wounded nationalism.
We must add also that it is easier to write the history of a region merely because it is smaller than a country.
Absolutely, and writing a history of Jamtland in some ways makes more sense than a history of Dalarna - Jamtland with its links to Norway stronger than Sweden in general's links, with its chequered military history...
....and so few might complain that someone would write a history of the Ukraine instead of a history of the Soviet Union, whereas it would be strange, to say the least, to write a history of Russia from 1918 to the present day and confining one's attention merely to events solely *within* the Russian border.
But consider this - if we write a history and decide not to focus on an artificially delimited "country", by what criteria do we define the region to be studied? Imagine writing a history of the Baltic sea, or the Volga river... I think common sense will have to be the main criterion for such choices.
I am sorry not have put forward any revelatory ideas, and apologise in advance if what is correct of what I have written is merely obvious - it seems like a good way to introduce myself to a list where, due to my inexperience, I will doubtless be listening far more than contributing.
Kola Krauze, BA
John Maarbjerg, currently visiting fellow at Yale University, Cand. polyt 1958, MBA 1966, PhD in History Yale 1991.
While I believe I sympathize with the general idea of your proposal, for "synchronous history" I am not certain that I fully understand your categories. Consequently, I have some difficulty with your seeming dichotomy between "national: and "synchronous/Regional or Supranational history".
I suspect that your "national" history is somewhat of a straw man these days, excepting the residue of nineteenth-century nationalism found in school text-books. After all, it is now more than thirty years since the last Danish-Swedish "historikerstrid" over the meaning of the two Kalmar Union documents ebbed out. And even that did shed additional light on the political ideas of the era as contemporary historians refought the ideological battles of the 15th century. I do agree, however, that very few, if any truly Scandinavian historians exist, as opposed to Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish historians, and that most Scandinavian history is written from a specific national point of view.
If your question is "Is there a case for synchronous history?" then my answer is that all good history, be it local, regional, national or supranational, has to take into account relevant developments in the larger environment. Our choice of topic and "agenda" should determine our unit of analysis, and the issue of including factors from the "world-at-large" -- providing context -- becomes one of selectivity, lest we all end up writing global history. But why limit this world-at-large to Scandinavia, especially in the middle ages, when the bearer of written culture, the church was cosmopolitan?
From my vantage point, only Scandinavian history makes sense, since the vast majority of non-Scandinavian historians have little interest in the national histories per se of "marginal" European countries. If you believe, as I do, that Scandinavian history adds to the understanding of Western history as a whole, then the "agenda" becomes one of presenting developments in Scandinavia in their broader European context. The differences and parallels between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe/The West become a central issue. The paradox is, that this may be done at the local as well as supra-regional level. I see no contradiction between writing about 16th-century Scandinavia in the European economic system, on the one hand, and presenting the economy of Oesterbotten for the same period as an example of a well-documented peasant economy under stress, on th other. I am addressing two different groups; generalist economic historians and agrarian historians, respectively.
So, returning to my first point, I would like a more complete definition of your original terms.
John P. Maarbjerg
I noticed with interest that my friend and tutor Tore Nyberg has started a discussion about the writing of history on a basis not of nations or countries but of regions and landscapes. He arose quit a lot of participants having had opinions in the matter. The topic concerns me personally because I am working on a paper which includes almost the whole northern region - specially Scandinavia - and central- and eastern Europe and the Mediteranean area. My topic is the Goths. Kola Krauze wrote in that respect the following comment:
My answer to that is that it is a common belief the Goths had their origin - at least ethnically - in Scandinavia and that includes Sweden and southern Norway and even those regions of present Sweden that earlier belonged to Denmark. Whether this belif is true or not is one of my topics at present even if I have no great hope to be able to prove something conclusively. This is maybe the occasion to introduce myself to my dear colleagues in H-Skand.
My name is Ingemar Nordgren. I am at present Fil.mag. but writes on a paper for a Ph.D. at Odense university and my tutor is Tore Nyberg. In civil life I am at present a teacher at the Gymnasium in Lidkoeping in History and Political Sciences - what will come in the future is still to see. I have written some articles concerning history and archaeology and I may mention "Gravmonumenten i Husaby - En arkeologisk och konstvetenskaplig gaata" in: Dokumentation av medeltidssymposiet i Lidkoeping 1990 and "Gotlands kelto-romerska arv - The Celto-Roman heritage of Gotland" with english summary in: Dokumentation av folkvandrings- och aeldremedeltida symposiet i Lidkoeping 1992. The last one about the Picture-Stones on Gotland after a researchtrip to the Iberian peninsula. I have also edited these two publications. The last one is a thorough examination of the migration-period under the subtitle "Early Nordic Eastern-contacts" and several of the leading European researchers of today in that period participates in the publication.
I am trying to look at the Goths in the light of their religion to see what it meant to them and their social and political organisation and I am also looking at the ethnicity and possible origin. If by chance anybody should have knowledge of information about the cult og "Gaut" before he was mixed up with Odin and about litterature of the real early arianism also treating the roll of Virgin Mary and the original eastern Trinity (with mother included) - not the late compromise - I would very much appreciate if you mail me or take contact by other means.
About the regional topic I noticed that Tore Nyberg said:
What he says is true - to a certain point. The early history knows no nations or in this case even states. It knows rulers over peoples with no fixed territorial limits interacting on personal connections and not before 900-1000 can we start talking about states in a modern sense. But even then the loyalty and relations to kindreds go across the borders of the states and it is dubios if we can speak about nations until quite late. The definition of nation is among else a common language which is separated from the neighbouring countries and exclusive ethnic origin and a separate cultural background.Nothing of this goes with the single Nordic countries - they all share a common background.Of course, speaking e.g. of Vaestergoetland, it´s history includes with necessity the unification of Sweden as it´s very source but it doesn´t mean that I need to make CONSTANT reference to that fact but I admit it may be often enough during certain centuries. It also periodically was strongly influenced of Danes and Norwegians and sometimes even dominated by the Danes and until unification it had an independent state but, as mentioned, periodically dominated or influenced by it´s western neighbours. The foreign policy of the kings with stronghold in Vaestergoetland includes with necessity wars or alliances with Danes and Norwegians as well as with other rulers or independent actors. Even now the personal connections overrule the interest of the state for a long period. The church organisations must not be forgotten in this process. We had the Roman Catholic Church from Hamburg-Bremen and the Irish and English Churh mixed up in the political developement and even the Ortodox Church can have been established in an Early stage if not by a genuine organisation. These were independent actors influencing the local rulers policy. It took the kings a long time to defeat and /or integrate the old Sweden. About 1250 unification suceeded militarily but civil and legal unification came gradually with Magnus Eriksson and Kristoffer of Bayern. It means that at least that long time the different landscapes had their own laws, their own values and their own more or less independent local steersmen and, of course, the old trade-connections and family-connections were not stopped by borders. Cf. Nils Dacke and his civil war in Smaaland which was caused of efforts from the central power to restrict bordertrade with Danish areas.
In modern times there is also problems with regional histories. Kola Krauze mentioned that suppression starts a great interest for historical roots in a people. How true! If we look at nowadays Eastern Europe we find lot of evidence of this. Many times it goes to exaggeration as in former Yugoslavia. This problem, however, is not confined only to territories being suppressed with military force but exists also where we have an administrative suppression of a central state government or an educational institution.
Let us return to Vaestergoetland. When central Kingdom moved into East-Sweden about 1250 great efforts were made to gain influence of this region and it was even used as a base for conqering new settlements in Finland and spreading christianity - it means spreading the central state power. It succeded for a while but then we joined the Kalmarunion and central power moved into Copenhagen and in Sweden there remained a council trying to make their own ruling. It resulted in revolution with joint forces from gentry, mining and metal industri and peasants. The reasons for revolt were economical and not national or ethnic. So still in the 15th century you can not speak of a swedish state but of ethnic and professional groups and family relations of the nobles which was cause of the decision of union from the beginning. Later on, in the 17th century, need arose to have a glorious history when Sweden became a Great Power in the Baltic area. Charles XI then used Johannes Rudbeck to create this history and, of course, in the vincinity of the University of Uppsala. This focused the Swedish history mainly on the East-Coast and it was indeed forgotten that the central kingdom in fact started in Vaestergoetland. At the same time we conquered Skaane and we had need for a university in Lund.
All historical and archeological activity for a long time was centred to these two learned institutions and excavatings and research was of course undertaken as close as possible - it´s the most comfortable not to go that far. Both of these areas had also a long and interesting history but one did forget that there were other parts of the land that had a history well so interesting. Oestergoetland was more centrally situated and it also was included in research in a higher degree than more pheripher areas. As a result of the concentration of the historical interest to certain central regions there started to grow movements of opposition in the pheripher areas. An opposition which was as fanatic and unnuanced as the historians who meant everything essential in the history of the Swedish state was to be located in Eastern Sweden. This debate is now more or less obsolete because of the rewriting of the Swedish history which now tries to consider the regional problems and describe the developement without predecided considerations of geographical or ethnical origin.
Conclusion: Of course we must try to write a history that takes into account everything that is essential to explain the problem you work with - be it different countries or regions or families etc.
Presentation and comment
My name is Beatrice Craig, and I am an associate professor of history at the university of Ottawa (Canada). I wear two hats. I teach a course on women in the western world, from the middle ages to the present ( and I have a research project underway on women's work and industrialization in France). I also teach canadian history to Confederation (1867). My primary research field is north american rural history and I am particularly interested in the impact capitalist developments had on rural economies and societies. I subscribed to H-SKAND because I know some interesting work is done in Scandinavian countries in those fields, and I hope this will allow me to keep up to date (our library receive two English language scandinavian history journals).
Interestingly, the first thread on H-SKAND is very close to one of my concerns. North American history is 'nationalist" too. US historians tend to treat the United States as an island in the middle of the north atlantic. Canadian historians are not much better; the ones from Quebec are by and large as insular (both groups assume their object of study was unique) Historians of eastern English Canada are a bit more aware of the fact they belong to a continent; in the case of historians of Ontario, they may even behave as if their province was nothing more than a backwater of the United states. On the other hand, they tend to vehemently reject the suggestion it may have had anything in common with Quebec.
What is ironic, at least as far as rural history is concerned, is that historians on all sides of those political divides ask the same questions of the same sources using the same methods and reach very similar conclusions. So much for American or Quebec exceptionalism! Despite the similarities of their research projects, most of those historians largerly ignore the conclusions of the other group. This parochialism makes little scholarly sense. One can very easily argue that the north east of the US and eastern Canada (south of the canadian shield) constitute one ecological unit: same climate, same range of soil type, same relief, same hydrography. The European settlers who have moved in since the seventeenth have not been that different from each other, even if some were catholic and some protestant, some english and some french, german or dutch speaking, and even if at some point or another each and everyone of those groups saw the others as the Devil incarnated. All those groups viewed agriculture as the safest and noblest calling (at least for people who had to work with their hands), and as the basis of a country's wealth; all believed that conjugal households were the natural basic unit of society. Combine this culture with that environment,and you end up with a very limited range of choices, made by everyone at one time or another.
National history in short does not even make sense even when one studies political units which have always been distinct. The nation may work as a unit of analysis when one studies political, diplomatic or cultural history (and even then, one may run into trouble: I am regularly challenged in my nineteenth century canadian history class when I cover Newfoundland because "it was not part of Canada then!"). But history is more than past politics. In the case of social or economic history, I think historians should focus on areas of human interaction or on ecological units, and forget about boundaries which often are the results of battlefiled or diplomatic luck.
University of Ottawa