Staff employed at University of Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

Karen Asta Arnfred Vallgårda

Karen Asta Arnfred Vallgårda

Associate Professor

Current research

My research explores modern political cultural history with a particular focus on transnational and emotion theoretical issues.

In my current project I investigate the emotional history of separation and divorce in Denmark since 1880. The aim is to find out how changing practices helped sustain and change social identities and hierarchies in the modern Danish welfare state.

My book Imperial Childhoods and Christian Mission examines thematics of childhood in the encounter between Danish Protestant Christian missionaries and Tamils in South India, 1864-1918. Employing a postcolonial history of emotions approach, the book documents the centrality of emotional labor to the changing imagination of childhood. This book reassesses general assumptions about the history of childhood within the Western world by probing its entanglements with broader imperial developments. It suggests that interactions between transnational actors in different parts of the colonized world contributed to the contemporary emotional and scientific reconfiguration of childhood. Furthermore, it shows how projects of rescuing 'brown' children from their parents and societies helped portray imperialism as a benevolent and justified endeavor.


  • Modern Danish cultural and social history
  • History of childhood
  • Intimacy, marriage and divorce in historical perspectives
  • Colonialism and postcolonial theory
  • History and theory of emotions
  • Theories of power
  • Christian mission history
  • Cultural encounters
  • India's modern history

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Emotions and Christian Mission: Historical Perspectives

    McLisky, C. L. (ed.), Midena, D. R. (ed.) & Vallgårda, K. A. A. (ed.) 2015 Palgrave Macmillan.

    Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Imperial Childhoods and Christian Mission. Education and Emotions in South India and Denmark

    Vallgårda, K. A. A. 2014 Palgrave Macmillan.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Følelseshistorie: Teoretiske brudflader og udfordringer

    Vallgårda, K. A. A. 2013 In : Kulturstudier. 2, p. 87-113 27 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. Published

    Were Christian Missionaries Colonizers?: Reorienting the Debate and Exploring New Research Trajectories

    Vallgårda, K. A. A. 2016 In : Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 18, 6, p. 865-886 22 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

ID: 986728