1st Edition

Nordic Whiteness and Migration to the USA A Historical Exploration of Identity

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume explores the complex and contradictory ways in which the cultural, scientific and political myth of whiteness has influenced identities, self-perceptions and the process of integration of Nordic immigrants into multicultural and racially segregated American society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In deploying central insights from whiteness studies, postcolonial feminist and intersectionality theories, it shows that Nordic immigrants - Danes, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians and Sámi - contributed to and challenged American racism and white identity. A diverse group of immigrants, they could proclaim themselves ‘hyper-white’ and ‘better citizens than anybody else’, including Anglo-Saxons, thus taking for granted the racial bias of American citizenship and ownership rights, yet there were also various, unexpected intersections of whiteness with ethnicity, regional belonging, gender, sexuality, and political views. ‘Nordic whiteness’, then, was not a monolithic notion in the USA and could be challenged by other identities, which could even turn white Nordic immigrants into marginalised figures. A fascinating study of whiteness and identity among white migrants in the USA, Nordic Whiteness will appeal to scholars of sociology, history and anthropology with interests in Scandinavian studies, migration and diaspora studies and American studies.

    Introduction: Whiteness in Nordic Immigrants’ Identity Formation

    Jana Sverdljuk, Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger, Erika K. Jackson and Peter Kivisto

    Part 1: Whiteness as Epistemological Ignorance

    1. Norwegian Migration and Displaced Indigenous Peoples: Toward an Understanding of Nordic Whiteness in the Land-taking

    Betty A. Bergland

    Part 2: Not Quite White: Painful Experiences of Sámi Immigrants

    2. Racialization of the Sámi in Early Twentieth Century Migration Processes: Trans-Atlantic Continuities and Divergences

    Ellen Marie Jensen

    Part 3: White Immigrants and the Failure of Class Solidarity

    3. "On Liberty and Equality": Race and Reconstruction among Scandinavian Immigrants, 1864-1868

    Anders Bo Rasmussen

    Part 4: Nordic Superiority and the Derogatory Representations of Others

    4. Atop a Hierarchy of Whiteness: Danish Americans as Portrayed by Danish Travel Writers in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

    Jørn Brøndal

    5. Good Americans "Born of a Good People": Race, Whiteness, and Nationalism Among Norwegian Americans in the Pacific Northwest

    Hans-Petter Grav

    Part 5: Challenging Intersections of Whiteness and Ethnicity

    6. Ideal Immigrants? Ethnic Community Building among Norwegian-Americans in the Nineteenth Century

    Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger

    7. In the American Matrix: Norwegians in Chicago in the Nineteenth Century

    Odd Sverre Lovoll

    Part 6: Nonconformity and Resistance to White Norms

    8. Claiming Roots: Politics of Racial Ancestry in the Finnish-American Press during the 1938 New Sweden Tercentenary

    Aleksi Huhta

    9. The Nordic Mystique: Swedish Women as Sexualized "Other" in Postwar America

    Erika K. Jackson

    Conclusion: Nordic Slotting into the American Ethno-Racial Hierarchy

    Peter Kivisto


    Jana Sverdljuk is Research Librarian and Curator of Migration Archives at the National Library of Norway. She has a PhD from the Centre for Gender Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

    Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger is the Director of the Norwegian Emigrant Museum and has a Ph.D. in history from the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo.

    Erika K. Jackson is an Associate Professor of History at Colorado Mesa University, USA, and the author of Scandinavians in Chicago: The Origins of White Privilege in Modern America.

    Peter Kivisto is the Richard A. Swanson Professor of Social Thought at Augustana College and Co-Director of the Laboratory on Transnationalism and Migration Processes at St. Petersburg State University, Russia. He has published 35 books, including works on radical Finnish immigrants in the United States, and more recent work focusing on theories of immigration, particularly transnationalism and multiculturalism. In 2013, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Turku after spending four years there as a Finland Distinguished Professor.