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Fabricating Sweden : studies of Swedish public diplomacy in France from the 1930s to the 1990s

  • Hellenes, Andreas
Publication Date
Apr 12, 2019
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This thesis considers three major projects of Swedish public diplomacy in Paris: the Pavillon suédois at the International Exposition of 1937, the Centre culturel suédois opening in 1971, and the blockbuster exhibition Le Soleil et l’Étoile du Nord in 1994. Situated at decisive moments in 20th century history, they represent entry points for a study of the evolution of national imagining and images in Swedish politics. It is the combination of the discursive imaging of Sweden and the production of national material expressions that the title of the thesis, Fabricating Sweden, seeks to grasp. It analyses border-crossing image circulations between France and Sweden, the role of actors and debates in the constitution of the projects, and the material production of the projects. The history of the circulations shows how images of Swedish exceptionalism have been constructed, contested and politicised in Sweden and France. The history of the actors reveals how the projects reflected changing constellations in Swedish public diplomacy, expressing diverging views on what constituted the nation, how to best represent it, and what purpose it should serve. The history of the productions explores how the projects were articulated as answers that sought to correct the dominating image discourses by displaying cultural commonality and mutual modernity. This multi-layered history of how Sweden was fabricated for French publics thus shows how, at the intersection between foreign images and national imaginings, the image of Sweden was renegotiated in processes where material expressions of Swedishness were entangled with key political debates about interpretations of Swedish modernity.

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