Robert Thorp


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Works at Department of Education
Telephone 08-16 39 50
Visiting address Frescativägen 54
Postal address Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Ph.D. in history didactics, Umeå University

Robert Thorp, senior lecturer in education, obtained his doctoral degree from Umeå University and is an internationally active researcher. His research specialises in the relationship between the individual, society and history with an emphasis on how history shapes our contemporary perceptions, but also how these perceptions affect our relationship to the past. A special interest has been devoted to how historical consciousness can be understood as a descriptive, analytical and normative concept. His other research interests are educational media, class room studies and teachers' relationship to history, with a special focus on Cold War history.

Robert Thorp's latest book is Uses of history in history education (Umeå, 2016). He has also published Historical consciousness, historical media, and history education (Umeå, 2014) and a number of articles and chapters in scientific publications. 

Thorp has been a research fellow at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, Germany. He has also visited the University of Newcastle in Australia and is an invited researcher in the HERMES research group at the same university.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Robert Thorp, Anders Persson. Nordidactica (2), 59-74

    This article presents a study of how history education can be understood as a practice directed towards existentialisation. Through classroom observation, teacher interviews and focus group interviews with students in grade 9 in Swedish lower secondary school, a complex teaching practice is uncovered where history teachers have to deal with matters pertaining to disseminating a meaningful narrative of the past, a critical approach to these narratives and an awareness of historicity and its implications for how we approach and understand the past. These results are then discussed from the perspectives of how history education can promote existentialisation among students, and what challenges and opportunities this may present to history teachers. 

  • 2017. Robert Thorp, Eleonore Törnqvist. Yearbook (of the International Society for History Didactics) 38, 215-234

    This article presents a study of how groups of 7-year-old pupils in Swedish primary school with little or no experience of history education expressed historical consciousness. The results of the study show that a perception of linear time where the past is seen as distinct and separated from the present is a key characteristic among the children that showed indication of historical consciousness. These results suggest a view of historical consciousness as something individuals may develop, rather than something that is innately human and anthropologically universal, and that a focus on the fostering of a perception of linear time and the epistemological challenges this poses, may be key in enabling and developing children’s historical consciousness.

  • 2017. Monika Vinterek, Debra Donnelly, Robert Thorp. Yearbook (of the International Society for History Didactics) 38, 51-72

    The Comparing our Pasts (COP) project aimed to determine what Swedish and Australian pre-service history teachers know, understand and believe to be important about their nations’ past. In this study pre-service history teachers were asked to write a short history of their nation in their own words without using outside sources of information. This article reports on a preliminary analysis of resulting texts, comparing and contrasting their conceptualisations of Sweden and Australia and what aspects of history were manifest in the analysed data. Given that the participant group is situated in two different national contexts, this study aims to analyse how the pre-service teachers’ narratives of the nation can be understood as influenced by the national historical cultures of Sweden and Australia. The results show that the respondents’ narratives expressed both similarities and differences that highlight the pertinence of a historical cultural approach to history education and pre-service history teacher training that may be linked to the differing national historical contexts. These results are then used to argue the importance of an awareness of historicity in order to highlight and stress how our views of and approaches to national history is contextually contingent. This poses a challenge to history teacher training both in Sweden and Australia. 

  • 2018. Robert Thorp.
Show all publications by Robert Thorp at Stockholm University


  • CV (208 Kb)

Last updated: June 11, 2018

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