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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.


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