Research at SINAS

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A central research focus at SINAS is to explore the global relevance of U.S. culture and society. We investigate the significance of U.S. culture from a range of different perspectives, including the history of migration, American influences on the world, film history, and popular culture.

SINAS regularly arranges seminars, conferences, and symposia within the field of American studies. Events are announced in the calendar on SINAS' main page.

SINAS Research Profile

Understanding Swedish-American Relations

During the first decades of the twenty-first century, Swedish interest in the United States has intensified. Increasing numbers of contacts in the business and entertainment worlds, in academic contexts, and in terms of social and political policies have linked the countries close together. Even though there are plenty of contacts between the countries, the Swedish and American understanding of each other is partial, often based on stereotypes and quick media reporting. Important dimensions of the two countries and their relationships remain misunderstood, to the detriment of politics, industry, and culture. As the global political and cultural configurations change, understanding the full complexity of Swedish-American relations is thus more important than ever.

SAS aircraft flying over New York

SINAS has launched a new program in Swedish-American relations to remedy this problem and better understand how the countries relate to each other. This requires a broad approach with expertise and insights in the cultural, social, and political connections between Sweden and the United States consisting of education, research, and public outreach.

As Sweden’s only academic institution devoted to the study of and teaching about the United States, SINAS provides an ideal platform for this program. The work is spearheaded by Dag Blanck, Professor of North American Studies and director of SINAS, and Associate Professor of North American Studies and Senior Lecturer at SINAS, Adam Hjorthén.

Although building on existing work at Uppsala University and elsewhere, the program seeks to renew the field by bringing together scholars from different disciplines in new combinations. It allows for new questions to be raised and new answers to be produced about the nature of Swedish-American interactions. This work has already begun through the creation of an international research network and through workshops, conferences, and publications sponsored by SINAS.

The era that most immediately comes to mind when thinking about Swedish-American relations is the mass migration of over one million Swedes to the United States in the 19th and early-20th centuries. Memories of the migration continue to inform contacts between the countries, influenced by the stories of Karl-Oskar and Kristina from Vilhelm Moberg’s novels The Emigrants or, more recently, from the life of the emigrants in Ola Larsmo’s Swede Hollow.

In recent years, scholars have broken new ground and expanded the field to investigate the multiple points of confluence between the countries. Migration will always be an important dimension of Swedish-American relations, but now the story of how Sweden and the United States have related to each other also concerns food, culture, fashion, sports, music, film, literature, theater, arts, climate politics, digital technology, and social media. It deals with the tourism and travel industries, which after 1945 has significantly contributed to the spread of ideas, culture, and knowledge between the countries. Although these areas are well known to many in Sweden and the United States, it is often based on individual experiences, fast-paced media reporting, social media or Google searches.

The program at SINAS offers a center for novel research and advanced learning to the benefit of many segments of society. It aims to be a unifying force for everyone interested in historical and contemporary contacts between Sweden and the United States. Many of these interests have come together in a SINAS network of scholars interested in what we call Swedish-American Borderlands. Click here for a further presentation of this network.

Last modified: 2023-06-13