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Marlene Broemer, Finlandia University/Clackamas Community College

American Scandinavian/Nordic Identity in the 21st Century

  • Name: Marlene Broemer
  • Academic credentials: Doctoral degree from the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, in Comparative Literature; MA from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA in Comparative Literature; BA degree in English (Education) from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Currently Adjunct Professor of English at Finlandia University, Hancock, Michigan, USA and Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, Oregon USA.

Abstract: What is American Scandinavian Identity becoming in the 21st century? Multiple organizations, ancestry sites and festivals purport to keep Scandinavian, (should I say Nordic?) identity alive in the 21st century, but what is to become of these activities and people in the future? Are Nordic peoples migrating to the United State in large numbers now so that they will keep alive 18th and 19th century traditions, or is there any chance they will do so in the future? On the other hand, are Americans looking back to their roots and returning to Norway or Denmark or even Finland?

This paper will present a review of Scandinavian/Nordic activities in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest, while also acknowledging the broad span of events in other parts of the United States and acknowledging parallel activities in Canada. Should Americans be looking back at Nordic roots, or should they follow the examples of Nordic countries today as they present ideals of education, health and welfare that are not realized in the States? What can Nordic countries offer Americans of cultural descent in the future, and what can those Americans present to their cyber offspring who find it increasingly difficult to identify with whatever past their families might represent?

The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, the new Nordia Northwest organization in Portland, Oregon, and those groups surrounding the only Finnish university in America, Finlandia University, will all be presented in some detail. A recent look at St. Olaf College in Minnesota will also be shared. A list of activities, events, resources, performances and other cultural assets will be presented as well as summaries of publications with national distribution. Programs that promote Scandinavian identity will be analyzed and described in terms of recent success and future promise.
Various aspects of Scandinavian cultural identity will be mentioned, from music and dance, to food, religion, economic and cultural ideals to art, design and scientific innovation will be mentioned to give a broad view, while also guiding the participants to consider what avenues show the most promise for the future, and which are sadly trumpeting an old horn? For a long time, Americans long thought Nokia was a Japanese telephone company, and now it has disappeared; what other Nordic innovations will similarly disappear without causing a permanent imprint on American society?

Theme: Scandinavian Identity Throughout History