‘Shining a Light Over History: Vikarvet Antiquities Association and the Use of History in Bohuslän’ with Dr Thomas Småberg

As part of the INS Public Seminar Series Dr Thomas Småberg presented ‘Shining a Light Over History: Vikarvet Antiquities Association and the Use of History in Bohuslän’ on the 21 April at 7pm. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century was a period of constructed national identities throughout Europe. Nationalism and National Romanticism were prevalent in many countries, not least in Scandinavia. Gothic revival movements were strong in Sweden during the early nineteenth century with the Geatish Society (Götiska förbundet) and its journal, Iduna. This had its roots in the ancient idea that the Swedish people’s ancestors were the famous Goths of antiquity. Literature and art abounded with themes from history, the Aesir and the Vikings were particularly popular. This also carried transnational aspects. In Scandinavia, there was a sense of a common past, a shared heritage that had its roots in the Old Norse culture, with the Vikings and the Sagas. Further, the political ideology of Scandinavism was prevalent in certain circles. Scandinavism is the ideology that Sweden, Norway, and Denmark shared a cultural heritage, a history and other bonds as well; therefore, this should translate to common interests in the then present. This paper will nuance the perception of Scandinavism through a discussion of history construction in Bohuslän, with a focus on the emergence of antiquities associations. Specifically, I will discuss how history manifested itself in the elite circles as the construction of an imagined community focused on the regional, national and transnational identity of the province of Bohuslän and the larger area called Viken. I argue that national and transnational identities were ambivalent and that a shared history forged communities.

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