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Karin SennefeltProfessor

Om mig

Min forskning inriktas på social- och kulturhistoria i Sverige under tidigmodern tid, med betoning på vardagens historia. Jag intresserar mig särskilt för kroppen, rumsliga praktiker och materiell kultur under tidigmodern tid. Till det kommer att jag tycker att historisk teori och metodutveckling är väldigt intressant.

Jag arbetar för närvarande med hur den tidigmoderna religiösa världsbilden påverkade kroppen, och hur kroppen i sin tur formade religiösa erfarenheter och upplevelser. I tidigare projekt har jag studerat stådssamhällets visualitet, protester, manlighet och politisk kultur i frihetstidens Sverige, samt identifieringens sociala praktiker i Sverige och de amerikanska kolonierna ca 1650-1850.

2016-2018 var jag koordinator för Humanistiska fakultetens forskarskola Kroppslighet i teori och praktik.

2017-2019 var jag ordförande för Vetenskapsrådets beredningsgrupp HS-I för historiska vetenskaper och arkeologi. 

Från 2022 är jag ledamot av Vetenskapsrådets ämnesråd för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap.

Forskning

Ordet blev till kött: Kroppen i protestantisk kultur ca 1600-1750

Projektets syfte är att studera sambanden mellan religionen och den levda kroppen mellan 1600 och 1750. Vi vill undersöka hur den tidigmoderna religiösa världsbilden påverkade kroppen, och hur kroppen i sin tur formade religiösa erfarenheter och upplevelser. Kroppen var invecklad i rader av existentiella konflikter i det religiösa livet: mellan gott och ont, liv och död, den kunde vara fallen eller frälst. Genom tre integrerade fallstudier om Guds ords makt att påverka kroppar, hur synd och skuld förkroppsligades och kroppen som bärare av sanning avser vi att komma åt hur religionen förkroppsligades inom luthersk lekmannakultur. Vårt fokus på den levda kroppen kommer också att leda till att vi kan avtäcka hur kroppen användes som maktinstrument av vanliga människor: kroppar hävdade sanningar, andlig kontakt och transcendens på ett sätt som ord inte kunde göra. På så sätt formade den levda, fromma kroppen hur människor förstod världen och hur den fungerade.

2016-2019, finansierat av Vetenskapsrådet

Karin Sennefelt (projektledare), Historiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet

Anton Runesson, Historiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet

Forskningsprojekt

Publikationer

I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Profetisk politik i Sverige 1600-1720

    2021. Sennefelt Karin. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 141 (2), 202-234

    Artikel

    Uppsatsen tar ett samlat grepp om en forskningsinriktning som tidigare tenderat att belysa enskilda personer, nämligen de politiska budskap som kom till uttryck i profetiska utsagor och andlig kommunikation i Sverige mellan 1600 och 1720. Den belyser särskilt den folkliga religiositetens politiska anspråk, och visar hur oro för krig, kritik mot adeln och stöd för de fattiga var viktiga element. Genom en kartläggning av dessa fenomen under perioden framgår hur det andligas närvaro och påverkan på världen, såsom den uppfattades i sin samtid, varierat över tid och i samverkan med existentiella kriser som utspelat sig på jorden. Tillsammans gör detta att det sakrala fick en starkt samhällskritisk potential.

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  • A Pathology of Sacral Kinghsip

    2020. Sennefelt Karin. Past & Present

    Artikel

    This article uses the ailing body of King Charles XI of Sweden (1655–97) to explore how the king’s physicality was intimately connected not only with the nature of his kingship, its sacredness and legitimacy, but also with his personal faith. It shows that, while Charles’s body was exceptional in that it was the body of the king, at the same time it was reacting to illness and sin like any other Lutheran body. It also projected the body’s capabilities on a larger scale. In particular, the lethal putrefaction inside his belly came to play an important part in interpreting his kingship. These ideas had an impact that extended from his own stomach pains, via the anxiety of his suffering people, to the ending of absolute rule. By following the analogies that contemporaries drew from the king’s autopsy and his physicians’ notes, from sermons, official proclamations, diaries, weather reports, poetry, correspondence and prophecies, this article uncovers the powerful resemblances that connected Charles’s body with nature, his people, the realm and the divine. In the end it was the gathering of the cosmos into Charles’s body that paved the way for direct criticism of absolutism itself.

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  • Absent Men and Tainted Houses

    2019. Karin Sennefelt. Gendering Spaces in European Towns, 1500-1914, 168-183

    Kapitel

    The chapter delves into an exceptional court case about the pulling down of 13 houses in Stockholm in 1719 to explore the multifaceted interpretations of space within a local community. Through a gendered notion of place, crowd attacks on the homes of ‘suspicious women’ were made possible: the space of a house was equated with those who dwelled within it and husbandless women perceived as immoral tainted a whole house. The crowd’s entrance into these spaces functioned as a form of reinstating of patriarchal authority in the dwellings of suspicious women.

    Of interest here are the reactions of the women attacked during the riots. Just as the crowd ransacked houses of personal possessions, the victims made great attempts to regain their possessions as a way of recreating their positions within the local community. Objects built narratives of good housekeepers, dutiful wives and mothers, and self-sufficient members of society. The virtue of these women was placed in their possessions; a looting crowd had displaced it. Taking things back was a way of replacing virtue. Metaphorically, by means of sheets, pots and tables, notions of identity came full circle and returned to the women.

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  • Young man, find your fortune

    2019. Karin Sennefelt. Scandinavian Journal of History

    Artikel

    This article uses social practices to better understand the interrelations between a social ideology that decried aspiration and the practices of the young men bettering their lot in life when entering the Stockholm guilds. The path into guild membership is investigated regarding the inclusion of would-be members, their social networks, the materiality of documentation and the ideas, symbols and aspirations expressed in the process. The article shows that transition from one social position to another was laden with positive value and symbolism, and that this was underscored with the help of scores of participants apart from the would-be apprentice himself. These young men held a liminal position in society, but one that was understood as largely positive. They were deeply embedded within a local community, but with a direction in life, unmarried, skilled or wanting to acquire skill. While practices of social mobility opened paths for these young men, they also contained social order and the mobility of others.

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  • A discerning eye

    2015. Karin Sennefelt. Cultural and social history 12 (2), 179-195

    Artikel

    Starting from the significance of the visual for the creation of distinction in early modern Europe, the article investigates the everyday practices of eyeing, inspecting and scrutinizing other people's dress and personal possessions. In that, it addresses the ways of seeing (rather than the ways of displaying) that were at the root of managing appearances and that formed a significant part of the urban experience. Cases are drawn from everyday visual practices among the lower orders in early modern Stockholm. The article argues that a discerning eye that inspected people and their material goods played an integral part in distinguishing respectability and honour in the city a way of seeing that was very different from the overview and order sought by city authorities. Therefore, these visual and material practices were part of ordering the social in the city.

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