Historical Social Research

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Joachim Östlund, Swedes in Barbary Captivity: The Political Culture of Human Security, Circa 1660-1760 [Abstract]

This article aims to present a specific form of “Human Security” during the Early Modern era. As a case study, the relationship between Sweden and the North African states will be put forward. The Swedish maritime expansion in the Mediterranean during the 17th century resulted in insecurity for the men who manned the ships when they became targets for Muslim corsairs from North Africa. This article explores how the Swedish state responded to the threat towards its seamen during a period of 100 years (1660-1760). The Kingdom not only reacted militarily or diplomatically towards this threat. Intense attention was also paid to humanitarian aspects on the level of the individual. The state tried several preventative measures to reduce the risk of captivity and installed a nation-wide ransoming system. The article highlights the complex relationship between state security and human security and shows how cultural values, economy, institutions and international politics also give form and substance to the praxis of the “Production of Human Security”.