Den allrakäraste fienden: Svenska stereotyper i finländsk press 1918-1939

Ainur Elmgren

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This thesis studies stereotypes of Sweden and Swedishness in the Finnish press 1918–1939. It maps the genealogy of the images and analyzes the use of stereotypes. In newly independent Finland, the press conveyed debates about national values and political goals.
The concept of national stereotyping as a political tool is derived from the works of Michael Pickering, Stuart Hall and Thomas Hylland Eriksen. The categories kin, stranger and enemy (frände, främling, fiende) are used in the study to classify images found in the material.
In Finland, Swedishness was both familiar and strange, as well as an obstacle to national unity. The past image of Sweden was a militant bulwark of Western civilization. This historical mission was integrated in an ideal Finnish or Finland-Swedish identity, while contemporary Sweden was discredited as cosmopolitan and pacifist. Sweden was seen as historical kin, estranged in the present.
Right-wing writers urged Sweden to reclaim its former mission by identification with "white" Finland. Cultural leftists claimed kinship with the "misunderstood" neighbor. In their interpretation of the common historical mission, the concept of a free Nordic people was coupled with Socialism and the labor movement.
Travel accounts depicted a harmonious Sweden in contrast to a Finland riddled with political and cultural conflict. The Finns themselves were perceived as strangers within their own nation, refusing to assimilate into a single national ideal. This "autoexotism" dilemma was solved by focusing on the ideological struggle against an external enemy.
According to monocultural nationalism, the only cure to minority questions was assimilation. An external enemy could not be assimilated, but it legitimized the fulfillment of a militant historical mission. The antisemitic image of a "Judaized" Sweden prostrating before the Bolsheviks fed right-wing fantasies of a final apocalyptic battle. Ultimately the choice between kin, stranger or enemy was dependent on the writer's own identification struggles.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • Karlsson, Klas-Göran, Supervisor
  • Meinander, Henrik, Supervisor, External person
  • Gerner, Kristian, Supervisor
Award date2008 Dec 19
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-85767-12-0
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2008-12-19
Time: 10:15
Place: Sal 3, Historiska institutionen, Magle Stora Kyrkogata 12A, 220 02 LUND

External reviewer(s)

Name: Elenius, Lars
Title: Docent
Affiliation: LTU, Historia, Luleå Tekniska Universitet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History


  • västerlandets bålverk
  • främling
  • frände
  • mellankrigstiden
  • media
  • kulturelit
  • bildning
  • press
  • bilden av
  • identifikation
  • den andra
  • fiende
  • nationell identitet
  • svenskhet
  • finskhet
  • Finland
  • Sverige
  • stereotyping
  • stereotyp
  • nationalism
  • historia
  • autoexotism
  • självexotism
  • antisemitism
  • xenofobi

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