Nature, Nation and the North


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Publication Conference other
Title Nature, Nation and the North
Author Sundmark, Björn
Date 2016
English abstract
Nature, North and Nation While it is true that the child is regularly “nationalized” in children’s literature, one can also argue that s/he is just as often “naturalized.” Indeed, nation and nature are often conflated in children’s literature discourse. One way of naturalizing (in both senses of the word) the nation is to root it in a specific topography and ecology. In a northern context – Scandinavian, Nordic – that very conflation finds expression in the idea of north. What is examined in this paper, therefore, is how a specifically “northern” discourse surfaces in children’s texts. For the flora and the fauna, the living conditions, the culture and traditions of inhabitants – these are all colored and understood by a northerly location. The presentation sets out to analyze Scandinavian children’s books – both school text books and fiction from the last 100 years. Special attention is paid to the ways in which they produce a northern environment, one in which nature and nation merge. To just point to a few possibilities: the north can be evocative of manliness, rugged nature, strength, individualism, and freedom – qualities which, presumably, are meant to stand in sharp contrast to the effeminate, over-civilized, and weak tyranny of “the south.” But the idea of north and its manifestations is of course much more varied and complex than that. It can represent life-defeating barrenness and cold. It can be evil as in H. C. Andersen’s Snow Queen. The north can also – from the perspective of the majority population – denote the Scandinavian Other, the Sami. Children’s books relate in different ways to the idea of north and to a northerly landscape: snow and ice, forests with coniferous trees, houses built to withstand hard weather, animals that belong in the north etc. Of special interest are symbolically important “northerly” activities, either at work or play, such as skiing.
Med bilden i fokus - nordisk forskarkonferens (30-31 augusti : Stockholm, Sweden)
Language eng (iso)
Subject Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
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