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#2 - Blog-posts

Posts in Rethinking Scandinavia #2
Några tankar om språkförståelsen i Norden och Skandinavien idag

By Katarina Lundin, Lund University


I föreliggande artikel presenterar jag några tankar om språkförståelsen i Skandinavien och Norden. Utgångspunkten är en problematisering av resultaten från tidigare undersökningar av internordisk och interskandinavisk språkförståelse. Gemensamt för flertalet av dessa undersökningar är att språkförståelse definieras på skilda sätt och att resultaten av dem därför inte riktigt kan beskrivas som bitar i samma pussel. Målet med denna artikel är att försöka teckna en mer rättvisande bild av språkförståelsen idag och samtidigt problematisera vad språkförståelse egentligen kan innebära. För att kunna göra detta behövs en omtolkning av några av de termer och begrepp som vanligtvis används i diskussioner om språkförståelsen i Skandinavien och övriga Norden. På så sätt kan man få en möjlighet att teckna en bild som både är mer rättvisande och mer intressant i diskussioner om språkförståelse. Även olika typer av språknormering blir relevanta fästpunkter för resonemangen, liksom reflektioner om vad som egentligen eftersträvas när vikten av en nordisk och en skandinavisk språkgemenskap understryks i så många sammanhang…

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“Rethinking Scandinavia”

- revurderinger af skandinavisk litteratur i Tyskland omkring 1900 med særlig fokus på Axel Junckers forlagsvirksomhed

By Monica Wenusch, Universität Wien


The importance of the German literary market at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century can not be underestimated with regards to the transmission and reception of Scandinavian literature as world literature. After a first wave of interest in Scandinavian literature in the romanticist period, a second and much more extensive wave follows, focusing on the literature of the so-called Modern Breakthrough. In the decades around 1900, a wider range of German publishing houses focus on promoting the works in translation of Scandinavian authors regarded as groundbreaking new, thus giving them the opportunity to reach out to a larger international public.

This article focuses on the infrastructural implications of this process of transmission and recontextualisation in general, but also on the role and strategies of three publishing houses in particular, S. Fischer Verlag, Albert Langen Verlag and Axel Juncker Verlag. Special focus will be on the latter (and today forgotten) publisher, due to his rather extraordinary status as a Dane establishing a publishing house in Germany with efforts not only to publish Scandinavian and German literature, but also to promote Scandinavian female writers applying innovative marketing ideas. A case study on Danish writer Johannes V. Jensen’s image in Germany – based on the German transmission and reception of his works –rounds up the article by exemplifying the importance and relevance of how Scandinavian literature is launched, marketed and received outside Scandinavia.

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Selling Scandinavia at the Ends of the Earth

Nordic Silent Film in Australasia

By Julie K. Allen, Brigham Young University


Film is an important vector for the transmission of culture around the world. This article investigates how the circulation of Nordic silent film in Australia before and after World War I illustrates the global movement of Nordic culture and explores how this cultural transmission may have shaped international conceptions about Scandinavia in a time of intense geopolitical tension and economic competition.

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Traveling to “Caribbean Sweden”

St. Barthélemy as Tourist and Tax Paradise

By Lill-Ann Körber, University of Oslo

Excerpt :

“Underbart att vara här, helt otroligt att detta varit svensk mark. Synd vi inte behöll ön Tack för att ni bevarar historien!!”

[Wonderful to be here, unbelievable that this was Swedish soil. Shame we didn’t keep the island Thanks for preserving the history!!]22 All translations are my own.

I found this entry in the guest book of the Wall House Museum in Gustavia, the capital town of the West Indian island St. Barthélemy (Fig. 1). The museum is located in a recently restored building from the period when the island was under Swedish rule (1784–1878).33 For the history of the “Wall House,” and the mystery around its name, see “L’histoire du Wall House”: One of the article’s authors, Arlette Magras, owns the island’s most comprehensive, private, collection of archival material on the Swedish period. Its address is the corner of Rue de Piteå (named after the island’s twin city in northern Sweden; the original Swedish name was Köpmansgatan) and Place de Vanadis/Vanadisplatsen (after the frigate “Vanadis,” the last Swedish war ship that left the island in 187844 See Bharati Larsson (2016, 49-117) for a discussion of the Vanadis Expedition with the very same ship (1883–5) and its function within a national colonial iconography.). It is the only public museum on the island and displays historical artifacts. The quoted entry, written by a Swedish tourist on June 16, 2016, is telling as it represents the Swedish discourse about its former colony in several significant respects: The experience of the place as “underbart” (“wonderful”) in its double meaning of great and pleasant, but also almost unreal; the description of the fact of Swedish colonialism in the Caribbean as surprising, or “otroligt” (“unbelievable”); the nostalgia pertaining to the loss of the territory (“shame we didn’t keep the island”); and the questions of historiography and commemoration: how does one preserve, or “bevarar,” the island’s Swedish legacy?

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Norden och spansk verklighetsförståelse

– Två exempel

By Carl-Eric Johansson


The Scandinavian region has never been an important source of influence in Spain, although different images of the north have existed from early history and until now. Similarly, in the opposite direction influence has been scarce but images have abounded . However, there are exceptions.

In this study I will throw light on two different modes of mediating images of Scandinavia to the Spanish public. One concerns a travel report written by a young Spanish author and diplomat, Ángel Ganivet, stationed in Helsinki for almost two years at the end of the 19th century. Finland was at that time not an independent state but part of tsarist Russia with a certain amount of autonomy.  During his stay he wrote articles (letters) published in his hometown newspaper in Granada, later collected and edited as Cartas finlandesas (Finnish letters). Ganivet was intensely busy with his own writing and analysing the social and political conditions in his homeland at the same time as he explored the Finnish society as it appeared to him in the Finnish capital Helsinki, all of which influenced his attitudes, interpretations of what he found out about Finland. Therefore his letters from Finland are not a neutral ethnographical description but rather a deeply personal, partly biassed statement.

Ganivet was not the only traveller from the south reporting about the north at this time. The process of  industrialization and modernization  taking place in northern Europe and the modern cultural expressions related to this process caused attention and debate in Spain.

The second example concerns the recent export of one particular genre of popular culture from Scandinavia, crime stories.  The peak of this development was reached when Stieg Larsson´s Millenium trilogy was translated into Spanish and sold almost 3 million copies. Influential critics, with some exceptions, in the important national newspapers tore Larssons novels apart both from an artistic - aesthetic point of view and also from a crime genre perspective. Both Mankell and Sjöwall- Wahlöö were still considered the masters of northern crime stories. Larsson represented the decline of the genre.

These two examples represent two different modes of cultural communication.  One, a traditional traveller´s report reflecting the discovery of a new interesting world and at the same time functioning as a point of reference in understanding the social och political conditions of the reporter´s own country. The other an example of exportation of cultural products on an international market where entertainment is the core value and not philosophical contemplation.                          

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Female Citizenship in Scandinavian Literature in the 1840s

By Anna Bohlin, Stockholms universitet


For Scandinavian women in the 1840s, suffrage was still far ahead in the future. They were, in Kathryn Gleadle’s words, “borderline citizens”. Yet, female writers insisted that women’s contributions to the nation were as important as men’s – they claimed women’s right to citizenship, using the one public arena to which women had access: literature. This article examines the construction of female citizenship in the Finnish writer Sara Wacklin’s (1790–1846) One Hundred Memories from Österbotten (1844–1845), and in novels by the Swedish writers Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865) and Emilie Flygare-Carlén (1807–1892) as well as the Norwegian novelist and author of a famous cookbook, Hanna Winsnes (1789–1872). However, male writers were also engaged in the debate over women’s citizenship, as a short comparison with the Swedish Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1793–1866), the Finnish Zacharias Topelius (1818–1898) and the Norwegian Henrik Wergeland (1808–1845) will make clear. Since contemporary ideas about femininity were intimately connected to the nineteenth-century distinction between the private and the public spheres, the question of content must be approached through spatialization: in order to clarify what the notion implies, it is imperative to ask where female citizenship is enacted, and how practices transform space.

The theoretical point of departure is political scientist Ruth Lister’s contention that the notion of citizenship as status needs to be complemented by one of citizenship as practice to do justice to women as political actors. Nevertheless, I argue that in order to grasp Bremer’s nineteenth-century idea of female citizenship, citizenship as status and as practice is insufficient, as she makes a vital distinction between the act committed and the inner attitude towards the act. This construction of citizenship as morality is comprehensible against the backdrop of the Lutheran idea of general priesthood and rests on an explicit connection between the individual home and “the great home of the world”, distinguishing between on the one hand a non-political devotion to individual, private life, and on the other, a political devotion to humanity through the individual. The idea of citizenship as morality is shared by all the female writers in the article, but has been obscured by modern feminist theories after Simone de Beauvoir, focusing exclusively on the public sphere as liberation.

The differences in constructing female citizenship are brought out in relation to the transition from household economy to market economy. Whereas Winsnes relies on older ideals of the “useful”, economic citizen, defending the household economy as a power base for women, Wacklin, on the contrary, clarifies how the household economy entails a lack of legal and economic rights as well as societal recognition. Flygare-Carlén portrays the capitalist market economy and an individual income as the only way to become an autonomous citizen, although selling one’s body on the labour market does indeed imply putting the moral economy at risk. Furthermore, the article shows that the male writers Almqvist, Topelius, and Wergeland, in favour of women’s rights, primarily promoted legal reform by means of utopian and visionary imaginings of a future female citizen, whereas the female writers arguments for citizenship made visible the contributions made to the nation by contemporary, ordinary women. Finally, female citizenship in Scandinavian literature of the 1840s is not only enacted in the kitchen, on the farm and in the school-room, but also in the public space: on the labour-market, and, in Bremer’s novels, on the concert scene and in the wilderness. Regardless of the economical model, the female citizen transforms the public space into a place for the production for morality – into a home – and conversely, the home is portrayed as a political site, which brings about societal change. In order to do justice to nineteenth-century female writers’ ideas about female citizenship, we need to recognize citizenship as morality.

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Sverige, världen och det frånvarande Norden

Om kulturella rum hos Birgitta Trotzig

By Krzysztof Bak, Stockholms universitet / Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków


På Birgitta Trotzigs kulturgeografiska karta saknas Norden som självständig storhet. I sina uppsatser, debattinlägg och intervjuer skapar hon olika intranationella och internationella rumskonstruktioner, men begreppet Norden väcker inte hennes intresse. Om man söker på bokstavskombinationen nord i hennes artikelantologier, får man träffar som “nordafrikan”, “Nordryssland”, “Nordeuropa”, “Gare du Nord”, men aldrig Norden.11 Birgitta Trotzig, Utkast och förslag. Essayer, Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1962, s. 23; förf:s Jaget och världen, Stockholm: Författarförlaget, 1977, s. 91, 122, 129.Samma nollfrekvens uppvisar uttrycken Skandinavienskandinavisk och skandinav.

Nordens frånvaro i Trotzigs publicistik kan härledas ur minst fyra faktorer. De förtjänar att diskuteras närmare, eftersom de både ger värdefulla inblickar i Trotzigs imaginärt-kognitiva universum och kastar ljus över en mer generell mekanism bakom Nordens relativt undanskymda plats i dagens litteraturvetenskapliga diskurs...

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“Jeg har fået så mange breve på det seneste”

Det åbne brevs genre i dansk og svensk samtidsdebat

By Simon Hartling & Johan Sahlin


“Åbent brev” er blevet en tidstypisk ettikette i den offentlige kommunikation. Det vrimler med eksempler på, at “åbent brev” bliver brugt som overskrift på læserbreve, debatartikler, kronikker eller blogindlæg. Internettet har talrige eksempler som “Åbent brev til Troels Lund Poulsen” (fra en række kommunalpolitikere), “Åbent brev til Folketingets politikere” (fra standupkomikeren Michael Schøt), “Åbent brev til Byrådet i Odense Kommune” (“på vegne af skolebestyrelser i Odense Kommune”).11 Henrik Vallø m.fl., “Åbent brev til Troels Lund Poulsen”, Information, 15/8 2017; Michael Schøt, “Åbent brev til Folketingets politikere”, Facebook, 7/3 2016; Skolebestyrelserne i Odense Kommune, “Åbent brev til Byrådet i Odense Kommune”. I Danmark er der sågar etableret en hjemmeside – – hvor man kan få publiceret sit åbne brev...

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The Challenges of Re-Packaging a Heritage

Re-imagining Nordic culture in North America

By Lizette Gradén & Tom O’Dell, Lund University


In the last decade, many museums that were established in the 20th century by immigrants from the Nordic countries have become increasingly concerned with broadening their audiences and more actively engaging their visitors. Efforts to do this have varied from offering cocktail hours, culinary conferences, and sauna sessions, to striving to appeal to people who may not identify as Nordic or do not think of museums as places they would normally visit. In part, these efforts stem from the growing expectations museums face of demonstrating the manner in which they serve a public benefit and support social values at play in society at large, but they also stem from the demands museums face of providing measurable results of annual growth to their financial stakeholders. But how does, and can, this work when it is a very particular heritage (Nordic heritage) that is under a museum’s auspices? ...

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