Swedish-American Borderlands: An Interdisciplinary Research Network

The Swedish Institute for North American Studies at Uppsala University is the host for the international research network “Swedish-American Borderlands.” This network explores Swedish-American relations over the past centuries. The relationships between Sweden and the United States are multifaceted and exist on many levels. Within American studies, the study of borderlands is a major theme that often takes its point of departure in the U.S.-Mexican border. To speak of “Swedish-American borderlands” may seem surprising, but we to want call attention to the non-geographical proximity that exists between the two countries. We are interested in both examining real and imaginary relationships that cross, challenge, and redefine different notions of Swedish-American borders, and on the effects that these notions have had on both countries. Our hope is that the concept of borderlands can be used to re-conceptualize relations between Sweden and the United States. It is intended to be a malleable tool of analysis.

The more precise definition of a Swedish-American borderland depends on the individual scholar, on the topics of study, and on the specific theoretical perspectives that are adopted. Some keywords to illustrate the nature of the relationships include cross-cultural influences and contact zones, mutualities and differences, cooperation and conflicts, power relations and asymmetries. Swedish-American borderlands exist in different social spheres and empirical areas, including, but not limited to, politics, migration, popular culture, literature, art, business, military cooperation, and technological development. Examples of possible topics include encounters in colonial North America, migration of individuals and ideas, the role of both popular and “high” culture in different disguises, political relations, and social media interactions and cooperation surrounding global terrorist surveillance.

So far, the network has arranged a conference in Uppsala in 2016 and a workshop in Sigtuna in 2017. Two sessions of the 2018 biennial conference of the Swedish Association for American Studies will also be devoted to the theme. Publications are also planned. If you are interested in learning more about the network, we invite you to contact its co-directors Professor Dag Blanck or Dr. Adam Hjorthén.