Cultural Heritage in Sweden in the 2000s. Contexts, Debates, Paradoxes




Sweden, cultural heritage, debates, Sweden Democrats, Romani Travellers


The article analyses the contexts, arguments and paradoxes of thinking about cultural heritage in Sweden of the 2000s when the topic achieved broad societal relevance in traditional media, internet fora, political communication and academic research. The discussion focuses on four themes: the normative criticism paradigm that has been increasingly influential in the heritage sector in recent years and the tensions and conflicts it provokes, recent heritage work on and with the until the last two decades silent ethnic minority Romani Travellers, the continuing media polemic around the Sweden Democrats and its heritage policies, and the heritage debate initiated by journalist and China expert Ola Wong in 2016. The analysis builds on projects and publications featuring heritage professionals, academics, NGO people and professionals with other kinds of cultural capital working in the heritage sector, as well as on illustrative debates and interviews in the mass media. The debates are often heavily polarized, interwoven with positions in other politically loaded issues such as globalization, migration and integration, and laden with questions of the legitimacy and authority of political and institutional actors.


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Author Biographies

Niklas Bernsand, Lund University

is a PhD student at the Centre for Languages and Literature at Lund University. His research interests include discourses of cultural diversity and the politics of memory. Among his most recent publications are: Cultural and Political Imaginaries in Putin’s Russia (ed. with Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, forthcoming 2018); Against All Odds. Ukraine and Ukrainian Studies a Decade after Yuriy Shevelov (ed. with Roman Horbyk, forthcoming 2018); “Memories of Ethnic Diversity in Local Newspapers: The 600th Anniversary of Chernivtsi” (in B. Törnquist-Plewa (ed.), Whose Memory? Which Future? Remembering Ethnic Cleansing and Lost Cultural Diversity in Eastern European Cities, Oxford 2016); and “Lviv and Chernivtsi: Two Memory Cultures at the Western Ukrainian Borderland” (East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1 (2014); with Eleonora Narvselius).

Eleonora Narvselius, Lund University

is an ethnologist affiliated with the Centre for Language and Literature and Center for European Studies at Lund University. She defended a PhD in ethnology at Kyiv University (Ukraine) and holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies and Nationalism from Linköping University (Sweden). Her recent research is at the intersection of memory, heritage and urban studies, together with aspects of ethnicity and nationalism. In the course of her research career she has participated in two large international research projects focusing on the urban environment, memory and heritage management: “Life Forms in the Suburbs of Large Cities in the Baltic Sea Region” (funded by the Swedish Research Council, project leader Prof. Karl-Olof Arnstberg, 1999-2001) and “Memory of Vanished Population Groups and Societies in Today’s East- and Central European Urban Environments. Memory Treatment and Urban Planning in Lviv, Chernivci, Chisinau and Wrocław” (funded by the Swedish research foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, project coordinator Dr. Bo Larsson, 2011-2014). Within the latter project, Dr. Narvselius was in charge of the development of methodological guidelines and coordination of qualitative sociological and oral history work in the four cities.




How to Cite

Bernsand, Niklas, and Eleonora Narvselius. 2018. “Cultural Heritage in Sweden in the 2000s. Contexts, Debates, Paradoxes”. Politeja 15 (1(52):57-94.