Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

SPECIAL FORUM: Sweden and America (edited by Dag Blanck and Adam Hjorthén)

Transnationalizing Swedish–American Relations: An Introduction to the Special Forum

Introduction to the Special Forum on "Sweden and America," edited by Dag Blanck and Adam Hjorthén

“An NHL Touch”: Transnationalizing Ice Hockey in Sweden, 1994–2013

During the 1994-95 ice hockey season in Sweden, one of the teams in the highest division, Luleå, treated fans to an innovation: instead of merely entering the ice as in years past, players flew out of a gigantic bear maw, to the accompaniment of a pounding rock beat. The idea was not original, however; as a newspaper columnist noted, it had been copied directly from the National Hockey league in North America. Luleå’s new entrance concept was part of a concerted effort by teams in Sweden’s highest ice hockey division, Elitserien, to emulate the NHL to make the sport more popular with young fans. This paper examines how and why that attempt was made and why it was ultimately unsuccessful.

Using newspaper articles and ice hockey association materials and examining comments made by fans in online fora, the study recounts that the change involved creating an “event” atmosphere around games, making symbols more NHL-like, and adopting names in English. Reaction from both media commentators and fans was clearly negative, mainly because the changes were seen as gimmicks and because they had been imposed on team supporters without prior consultation. In the end, most teams quietly ended the use of both names and symbols.

The last point is interesting, the study argues, as it has implications for discussions of Americanization. The case of Swedish hockey in the 1990s suggests that there are instances when American influences are rejected by recipients in other countries.


The Transnational Viking: The Role of the Viking in Sweden, the United States, and Swedish America

This article deals with how Vikings have been used as symbols and historical representations in Sweden, the United Sates, and Swedish America during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Three usages of the Vikings are isolated. The first is a “Swedish Viking,” which emphasized the role of the Viking and Norse past in Swedish (and Scandinavian) histories as historical antecedents as a part of 19th century nation building. The second is an “American Viking,” with its beginnings in the mid-19th century and rooted in the increased racialization of American society, and concerned with the processes through which Sweden and Scandinavia managed to become “Anglo-Saxon” and thus a significant part of the early European history in North America. The third usage is a “Swedish-American Viking,” dealing with ways in which the Swedish-American ethnic communities appropriated the Vikings, and made them a part of the formation of Swedish-American identities in the US from the late 19th century.

The article analyzes the ways in which the different usages have resonated with each other back and forth across the Atlantic. In the 19th century, “the Swedish Viking” clearly provided the building blocks for the establishment of the “American Viking.” Similarly, the “Swedish-American Viking,” drew on the contents and power of both the first types. During the 20th century, for example, the Swedish Viking has clearly become influenced by both the American and Swedish-American appropriations. This suggests both a circularity of interpretations and the importance of changing power relations.

Intersecting Worlds: New Sweden’s Transatlantic Entanglements

The New Sweden Colony (1638-1655) is often regarded as an anomaly in the context of 17th century Swedish politics and in the context of other European colonies in America. Equally, the colony's importance in the historical narrative of early modern Sweden and colonial America has been modest. However, more recent research on Scandinavian involvement in the Atlantic economy and early modern politics at home and abroad shows that Sweden was actively involved in producing and advancing a colonial agenda and that the relatively short-lived colonial venture in America had long-term effects and consequences.

Taking the point of departure in a critical review of the scholarship on New Sweden, this article examines the common image of the colony and identifies several blind spots and points of convergence between New Sweden and Sweden’s other colonial projects. Informed by postcolonial approaches the article examines colonial rhetoric and logic underlying the interactions between the Swedes and the Native Americans and foregrounds practices of the Swedish community in America. It explores the connections between Sweden and the Swedish community in America throughout the 17th and 18th century and the impact of these connections (and this colonial venture) in Sweden and America. The article also draws attention to the close relations and parallels between the colonial practice in New Sweden and Sápmi. This analysis sheds new light on the colony and its role in Sweden and America in the 17th as well as in the 20th century.


“Here Is the Beginning of Pennsylvania”: A Settler Commemoration and Entangled Histories of Foundational Sites

In the winter of 1937, Pennsylvania governor George H. Earle traveled to Sweden together with a state delegation, and made a stop in the small town of Bottnaryd—the birthplace of Johan Printz, a governor of the seventeenth century New Sweden colony located on the Delaware River. Reportedly affected by the moment, Earle gave a speech declaring: “Here is the beginning of Pennsylvania.” By using W. J. T. Mitchell’s discussion of “foundational sites” and theories on entangled history as points of departures, the article analyses the project of locating the birthplace of the Keystone State in relation to Sweden. The Pennsylvania tour was part of the state’s 300th Anniversary Celebration—elsewhere called the 1938 New Sweden Tercentenary— staged mutually by commissions from Sweden, Finland, and the US.

I argue that this commemoration, of a magnitude on par with New England tercentenaries, should be understood as thoroughly entangled across regional, ethnic, and national borders. Pennsylvania’s placing of its foundational site in Sweden was the result of trans-Atlantic cooperation and regional competition with Delaware and New Jersey. It was a politicized project that rested on contemporary socio-economic interests connected to Sweden’s Social Democratic welfare state, and Pennsylvania’s “Little New Deal” backed by Governor Earle. The attempt to bypass William Penn by (dis)locating Pennsylvania’s foundational site outside state boundaries went against the grain of American settler mythologies, which generally have purportedly “homegrown” foundational sites on US territory. For Sweden, though, this aspect was less problematic. Eventually, the commemoration arguably had more impact on Sweden than on Pennsylvania.

Reception, Circulation, Desire: Liv Ullmann and the Transnational Journeys of a Scandinavian Actress

Transnational issues in cinema cover a wide spectrum, ranging from the regional to the global. Besides a host of multicultural concerns, e.g. so-called “accented” cinemas there are the ever more diversified production-, distribution- and consumption-cultures to consider. Current examples abound­—for example, when David Fincher took the unusual decision to shoot, at an inordinate cost, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Stockholm, and with international James Bond star Daniel Craig in the lead as Stieg Larsson’s literary hero Mikael Blomkvist.

But transnationality in cinema is old news. For instance, ever since directors of Swedish silent cinema and actors like Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, Nordic and/or Swedish stars have made cross-Atlantic journeys. One of the most prominent, yet least noticed in a transnational context, is Liv Ullmann (b 1939). Already well established on stage and film in Norway, it was her acting in films by Ingmar Bergman that launched her international career. She enjoyed a phenomenal popularity, particularly in the US where she won New York Film Critics’ Award for Best Actress twice, for Scenes from a Marriage in 1974 and Face to Face in 1976, while also starring on Broadway, in Anna Christie in 1977. In a transnational context, it is also of interest that her activities range well beyond film into other fields, as internationally bestselling author (e.g. Changing, 1977), UN-ambassador, and film and stage director with an international outreach.

But what makes Ullmann a particularly intriguing case is that she can be regarded as an auteur-star, whose function in many ways parallels the function of stars in American mainstream film. For if the underlying commercial reasons for why current American film is more than ever filled with international actors is that Hollywood is adjusting itself to an increasingly globalized film industry, in which most of the revenues do not come from the US any more, Ullmann in her time very much served a similar function for the auteur-fueled European film culture of the day. There are simply good reasons to assume that art house auteurs such as Bergman were no less commercial than their commercial counterparts, e.g. in being supported by the international film trade. My aim, then, is to show how a “high-brow” star may serve as an index to the contemporary transnational media scape, and the degree to which she in this case also conflated notions abroad of the “Swedish” with the “Nordic”—what may called an early version of Nordic noir, albeit with an existential rather than crime novel twist.

From “False” Neutrality to “True” Socialism: US “Sweden-bashing” during the Later Palme Years, 1973–1986

Throughout the Cold War years, images of the USA, the American Way, and notions of Americanization played a significant role globally. Partly due to the dominance of this US-centered notion of Western democracy, admittedly marginal images of Sweden and the Swedish Model were held out as a palatable alternative to US capitalism. However, this alleged “exemplarity” of Sweden also made it the subject of a genre of “Sweden-bashing” in global public opinion.

In this genre, US media actors played a key role for the shift from the Utopian image of Sweden in the 1960s to the more Dystopian visions of a welfare state in decline circulating from the 1980s and onwards. While US criticism of Swedish anti-war protests is well-known, the time period from 1973 to the assassination of Palme in 1986 has not been studied. This article therefore follows the active but largely unofficial American Sweden-criticism and the official Swedish tracking of this publicity, its reception in Sweden, and various Swedish attempts at affecting the image of Sweden in the USA.

In particular, the article tracks a shift in US Sweden-bashing from targeting alleged “false” neutrality of Swedish foreign policy to attacking the “true” socialism supposedly detectable in Swedish domestic policies and development aid. Central themes of Swedish “People’s Home” criticism in the 1990s first emerged in US media and then spread in global public opinion, well before they entered Swedish debate, highlighting how transatlantic exchange may belatedly and indirectly impact upon national identity, collective memory, and historical consciousness.

Uncovering a Cover: Marketing Swedish Crime Fiction in a Transnational Context

During the twenty-first century, Swedish crime fiction became an international phenomenon and turned into a million-dollar industry. Besides being translated all over the world, the crime novels are converted into movies and TV series in Sweden, while remakes of these films are produced abroad. This success story is closely interwoven with the international book market and publishing houses’ marketing strategies. This article investigates how domestic literature is marketed in a globalized book market.

The article explores how these bestsellers are represented and designed to catch attention and attract a reader in a foreign setting. How is a visual story created by marketing strategies, through jacket designs and promotional images? How do these strategies create a global imaginary and put the book itself into play with other media? The article adapts a comparative perspective to illuminate similarities and differences between marketing strategies in a transnational context. The emphasis will be on the American book market, a choice motivated by USA’s hegemonic position in Western culture and its globalized entertainment business.

The article will analyze source material from authors such as Arne Dahl, Mari Jungstedt, Lars Kepler, Jens Lapidus, Stieg Larsson, Åsa Larsson, Camilla Läckberg Henning Mankell, Liza Marklund, Leif G. W. Persson, and Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö.


Forward Editor's Note

Forward Editor's Note for JTAS 7.1

Excerpt from Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post–World War II Paris

Excerpt from Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post–World War II Paris (University of California Press, 2016)

The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary

"The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary" (from The Imaginary and Its Worlds: American Studies after the Transnational Turn, ed. Laura Bieger, Ramón Saldívar, and Johannes Voelz, Dartmouth College Press, 2013)

Excerpt from Borges’s Poe: The Influence and Reinvention of Edgar Allan Poe in Spanish America

Excerpt from Borges’s Poe: The Influence and Reinvention of Edgar Allan Poe in Spanish America (University of Georgia Press, 2016)

Excerpt from Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader's Companion)

Excerpt from Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader's Companion) (Rutgers University Press, 2015)

Excerpt from Teaching Transatlanticism: Resources for Teaching Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Print Culture

Excerpt from Teaching Transatlanticism: Resources for Teaching Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Print Culture, edited by Linda K. Hughes and Sarah R. Robbins (Edinburgh University Press, 2015)

Excerpt from The Ethnic Avant-Garde: Minority Cultures and World Revolution

Excerpt from The Ethnic Avant-Garde: Minority Cultures and World Revolution (Columbia University Press, 2015)

Excerpt from The Mexico Diary: Winold Reiss between Vogue Mexico and Harlem Renaissance (with hyperlinks to audio; see abstract for track listing)

Excerpt from The Mexico Diary: Winold Reiss between Vogue Mexico and Harlem Renaissance (An Illustrated Trilingual Edition with Commentary and Musical Interpretation) (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, co-published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2016). Reprinted with permission by Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.

ISBN 978-3-86821-594-6

*** See corresponding diary entry dates for hyperlinks to the following audio tracks from Meine Reise durch Mexico / Mexico Diary 1920:


Track 21: Monday, October 11, 1920 – Truest Mexico

Track 22: Thursday, October 14, 1920 – Schwarzwald in Mexico?

Track 30: Friday, December 10, 1920 – Back to the Blues

Excerpt from Dean Worcester’s Fantasy Islands: Photography, Film, and the Colonial Philippines

Excerpt from Dean Worcester’s Fantasy Islands: Photography, Film, and the Colonial Philippines (University of Michigan Press, 2014)

Excerpt from Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference

Excerpt from Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference, edited by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher (Duke University Press, 2016)

Excerpt from Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination

Excerpt from Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination (Wayne State University Press, 2015)


Towards a Worldly Post-9/11 American Novel: Transnational Disjunctures in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland

This paper traces possible responses to the mutations in US state power after 9/11 by analyzing the worldly and transnational gestures of the post-9/11 American novel. Irom maps how post-9/11 fiction speaks back to the state’s hegemonic imaginaries through an analysis of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. Irom proceeds from the premise that in light of the nation’s "geopolitically imperialist" ambitions, it becomes all the more crucial to delineate oppositional transnational practices that do not repeat the hegemonizing moves of the state that often operate under the semantic guise of the "transnational." While Netherland takes up the challenge of imagining worldliness through its various counternarratives—the transnational history of cricket, the geospatial imaginary of Google Earth, and the protagonists Hans and Chuck—the essay locates its reading between the osmotic spaces wherein the constituent elements of the transnational bear varying relations of resistance, conflict, and consonance with power structures. Irom argues that these disjunctures effect an unsettled and ambivalent series of counternarratives with unstable relations to power structures. In reading the disjunctures overdetermining Netherland’s transnational entities and in locating the novel’s aspirations towards a post-9/11 worldliness between the competing pulls of globe and nation, we come to a fuller comprehension of the ways in which nation-states still exercise a spectral fascination upon the imagination and how novels might more fruitfully gesture towards challenging such tenacious hegemonies.

Transnational Post-Westerns in Irish Cinema

This article reviews the implications of two film categories developed in the last few decades (the transnational and post-Westerns) and applies them to two films produced in Ireland and usually not identified as such. After a review of the concepts of post-Westerns and transnationalism, two examples from Afghanistan (The Kite Runner) and Turkey (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) are provided to illustrate the proposed category. A review of the cultural implications of the West in Ireland follows, with examples from James Joyce’s Dubliners and John Ford’s film The Quiet Man. Finally, two Irish films (Into the West and Mickybo and Me) are analyzed. These films, like other transnational post-Westerns, make explicit references to American Westerns, establish a dialogue with the original film genre, question its values and assumptions, and, at the same time, probe into the national identities and conflicts of both Ireland and the US.

Performing Transnational Arab American Womanhood: Rosemary Hakim, US Orientalism, and Cold War Diplomacy

The first Miss Lebanon-America, Rosemary Hakim, landed at Beirut Airport in July 1955 to start a public diplomacy tour. As an American beauty queen from Detroit visiting Lebanon, her parents' homeland, she was greeted enthusiastically by the local press and closely monitored by US government representatives. After her return to the States, she documented her experiences abroad in an unpublished memoir, entitled "Arabian Antipodes." However, this 1955 account does not just chronicle her travels. Hakim performs here her own approach to Arab American womanhood. In this essay Koegeler-Abdi contextualizes her narrative performance within the histories of American orientalism, the emerging Cold War, and ethnic beauty pageants to provide a better understanding of the specific intersection in these 1950s hegemonic discourses that framed and enabled her public agency. Her analysis then looks at how Hakim herself strategically cites these discourses in her self-fashioning to claim her own subject position as a white Arab and American woman during the 1950s. She argues that, while most Arab American authors at this time avoid a serious Arab ethnic affiliation, Rosemary Hakim already proudly uses a transnational sense of Arab Americanness to negotiate her own gender and ethnic identity. This is significant because we currently lack a broader historical understanding of Arab American women’s public agency, particularly during the mid-twentieth century. Hakim’s memoir requires us to rethink the history of Arab American women’s strategies of self-representation in ways that acknowledge but are not confined within the terms of conventional orientalist discourses.

Interplanetary Border Imaginaries in Upside Down: Divisions and Connections in the American Continent

This paper provides a close analysis of Upside Down (dir. Juan Solanas, 2012), a science fiction film that presents two radically different portraits of two neighboring planets to metaphorically explore and negotiate the economic divide between the US and Latin America. The film focuses on the role of borders, legal provisions, and contact between humans in structuring interactions and movement between Latin America and the US. Gómez Muñoz employs Mark Shiel's geographic approach to film and pays special attention to characters' movements in the spaces that the film depicts. The first part of the paper focuses on boundaries and discrimination practices in the Americas. The second part considers exceptions to the limitations that borders try to impose in the film and examines the potential of transnational love in bridging differences and advancing understanding. Upside Down suggests that people infuse their images of borders and other nations with their own personal and local perceptions. Their transnational/trans-American relationships allow them to draw from different sources and bring disparate practices together for their own and their societies' benefit.

"This Land Is Holy!" Intersections of Politics and Spirituality in Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter

This essay discusses the intersections of politics and spirituality during the Porfiriato era in Mexico, an oppressive period that initiated northward migration into the United States; specifically, Lopez examines Luis Alberto Urrea’s 2005 novel, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, which blends narrative, history, and biography. Merging a historical focus on the political impulses of northward migration with attention to spiritual and religious epistemologies, Urrea’s narrative of "Teresita," a regional folk saint of northern Mexico, highlights a critical time that would significantly determine the intertwined futures of both nations. As the author brings Teresita and her community to life for readers, he simultaneously describes the Porfiriato era’s relationship with US interests, the state’s violent push towards modernization, and power struggles over indigenous land rights, all of which would eventually culminate in the Mexican Revolution and mass migration into the United States. Ultimately, Lopez argues that, in its narrative representation of political conflicts over land rights during the Porfiriato, The Hummingbird’s Daughter functions as a form of witnessing to state violence and, further, highlights a complex, embodied spirituality through which indigenous and mestizo peoples responded to state violence with contestation and counterdiscourse. This essay highlights Urrea’s work as a substantial contribution to the further development of Border Studies, Chicano/a Studies, and Transnational American Studies.

Tijuana Transa: Transa as Metaphor and Theory on the US–Mexico Border

This essay explores the varied potential of “transa” as a new metaphor to describe the US–Mexico borderlands in the twenty-first century and the formal transactions used in the photo-textual essay Here Is Tijuana! (2006). Reimer identifies certain “transa techniques” in the book that connect reader-viewers to a practice of reading-viewing (both text and city) that contests North American and Mexican stereotypes depicting Tijuana (and the borderlands writ large) as a city of vice, illegality, poverty, or a cultural wasteland. What makes Here Is Tijuana! different from the many other texts produced about Tijuana (a large number of which are cited in the book itself) is the concept of transa. Reimer expands the authors’ usage of the term to offer a theoretical-aesthetic intervention into the existing discourse, not only on Tijuana itself, but also on the US–Mexico border and cultural studies in general. Transa offers an alternative approach to encountering experimental cultural productions.  Through transa techniques that include textual-visual collage, pastiche, juxtaposition, and sampling, Here Is Tijuana! documents and visualizes a series of geopolitical and cultural phenomena encountered in Tijuana, such as free trade, uneven urban development, border crossings and migration, labor struggles, and urban and traditional art practices. The book forces readers into its transas to offer new ways of “reading” or “seeing” the US–Mexico border (through Tijuana) that testify to its contradictory power to transgress—and even to render obsolete—national boundaries, while also heightening the perceived power and presence of states and cohesive national identities.

Feminist Novels in a "Non-Feminist" Age: Pearl S. Buck on Asian and American Women

Nobel Prize–winning author Pearl S. Buck articulated a feminist sensibility in her best-selling novels and short stories from the 1930s to the 1960s about Asian and American women, showing both victimization and strength. This study demonstrates that Buck and her colleagues—female reviewers, readers, and other authors—in these non-feminist years not only helped keep a feminist perspective in the public eye but helped set the stage for the feminist revival of the 1960s. Moreover, Buck used her experiences growing up in China and her credibility in the US as an expert on Asia, not to bolster a sense of superiority among Americans with regard to others, but to show similarities in the social conditions of Asian and American women—an outlook that Shaffer calls “critical internationalism.” Moreover, as her career developed, Buck increasingly portrayed the strength of Asian women in their societies, even when relegated to the “private sphere.” This essay explores what appears to be a paradoxical approach in Buck’s fiction, that over time she maintained her critique of “separate spheres” in American society while she came to appreciate the potential for women of “separate spheres” in Asian societies.

The Transnational Artists Yun-Fei Ji, Hung Liu, and Zhang Hongtu: Globalization, Hybridity, and Political Critique

This essay examines the work of three artists, Yun-Fei Ji, Hung Liu, and Zhang Hongtu, all of whom emigrated from China to the US in the 1980s. Brodsky examines what effects the move to the US has had on their creative practices, as well as their connections to China—Ji has recently returned, Zhang has a studio there, and Liu’s painting content is rooted in Chinese subjects. Brodsky is primarily interested in the impacts of transnationalism, globalization, and the issues surrounding hybridity on the ways in which these artists construct their works. She is also attentive to the manner in which all three artists utilize artworks as forms of political critique that are related to local and global concerns. These practices have been partially enabled by their transnational lives in the US. Through examining the earlier artworks of these three artists, the changes observed in their more recent works will help to clarify the impact of immigration to the US on their lives and on their creative production.

  • 12 supplemental files

Old Masters’ Madonnas in “New World” Photographs: Instances and Impact of Interpictoriality in Lewis W. Hine’s Photography

This article proposes to investigate the degree and manner in which American photographer Lewis W. Hine in his works of the early twentieth century drew on previous artworks originating outside the United States. Many of Lewis Hine’s photographs, as the analysis of three selected case studies shows, make clear implicit and/or explicit interpictorial references. More specifically, the article focuses on the usage of the Madonna motif in selected Renaissance paintings, in photographs by nineteenth-century British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and in photographs by Hine. In these pictures, taken in such diverse contexts as Ellis Island, New York City tenements, and post–World War I Europe, Hine ventures beyond the representation of his actual photographic subjects, women and children, thereby expanding his photographic repertoire as well as the pictures’ meanings: by referring more or less overtly to other artworks and art forms, Hine adds not only to the appeal, the implications, and thus the effectiveness of his pictures (in the context of social documentary), he also redefines and repositions himself as a photographer between the two presumably opposite poles of social documentary and art photography.


Reprise Editor's Note

Reprise Editor’s Note for JTAS 7.1

Adaptation Studies and American Studies: Interfaces

Originally published in Adaptation and American Studies: Perspectives on Research and Teaching, ed. Nassim Winnie Balestrini (Heidelberg, DE: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2011).

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Originally published in Susanne Leikam, Framing Spaces in Motion: Tracing Visualizations of Earthquakes into Twentieth-Century San Francisco (Heidelberg, DE: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015).


About the Contributors

Contributors for JTAS 7.1