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Cross-Border Commemorations

Celebrating Swedish Settlement in America

The histories of colonial settlement in America are generally presented as uniquely national stories. Yet because these histories involved settlers who crossed oceans, they are inherently transnational and have been important for different groups throughout the world. To understand how settlement histories are used to promote social, political, and commercial relations across national borders, Adam Hjorthén explores the little-known phenomenon of cross-border commemorations.

Focusing on two celebrations of Swedish settlement in America—the 1938 New Sweden Tercentenary and the 1948 Swedish Pioneer Centennial—Hjorthén examines a wide variety of sources to demonstrate how cultural leaders, politicians, and businessmen used these events to promote international relations between the United States and Sweden during times of great geopolitical transformation. Cross-Border Commemorations argues that scholarship on public commemoration should expand beyond national borders and engage the shared and contested meanings of history across local, national, and transnational contexts.

About the Author

Adam Hjorthén is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of History of the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin and the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University. He is the 2018 recipient of the Loubat Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities for his research.

Review

"Cross-Border Commemorations makes a significant contribution to the emerging body of scholarship on transnational public history."—Tammy S. Gordon, author of The Spirit of 1976: Commerce, Community, and the Politics of Commemoration

"This exhaustively researched history explores how cross-border ceremonies were products of extensive negotiations between nations and people, illuminating the sensitivities, emphases, and omissions that influence the creation of public memory in a given geopolitical context."—Julia Creet, coeditor of Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Memory Studies

"What makes Cross-Border Commemorations so interesting is that it deals with historical events celebrated by several different groups at the same time and place, but with different interests and agendas. To picture this as a history belonging to only one group or pertaining to one national historiography ignores what really motivates these celebrations. This is imaginative scholarship that encourages readers to go beyond one's comfort zone in thinking about the meanings and processes involved in migration—today and in the past."—Gunlög Fur, author of A Nation of Women: Gender and Colonial Encounters Among the Delaware Indians
University of Massachusetts Press
Public History in Historical Perspective

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