Accepted Paper:

The paradox of nationalism in constructing heritage  


Karin Gustavsson (Lund University)

Paper short abstract:

There is a paradox of how nationalism is constructed. In various countries the same arguments have been used to assert the countries own history and the cultural heritage as unique to their own nation. Similar methods have been used for saving what has been considered as a strictly national concern

Paper long abstract:

During the first decades of the 20th century investigations of the peasant society took place in Sweden, with a background in the increasing industrialization and urbanization. During this era the life forms in the countryside became interesting to scholars. It was considered a question of national interest to "save" the history and the heritage that was represented in traditions, dialects, housing, farming and all other signs of old-time lifestyle, by making documentations designated for future scholars.

Similar works took place in several European countries, and the encouragers in different countries were connected in reading each other's works, meeting at conferences and in fieldworks. In Sweden the authorities affirmed the investigations, considered particularly important for the national identity. Know thyself was the motto for the grand museum for cultural history - Nordiska museet - in Stockholm founded in the late 19th century.

I have been investigating the relations between two encouragers, Sigurd Erixon in Sweden and Halvor Zangenberg in Denmark, with the aim to analyze how their projects were strictly national and important in the process to form a national identity, and in the same time, carried on in a similar way in the two countries.

How was the understanding of what is a national heritage affected by the fact that the ideological thoughts and methods used for constructing heritage was formed in a context of national plurality? Can a national collective memory of history be expressed as cultural heritage while the presumptions are similar in several countries?

Panel P323
Spaces, memories, history, identity