On settler belonging: Henrik Olav Mathiesen, ‘Norwegians in America and Perceptions of Belonging, c. 1840–1870’, MA Dissertation, University of Oslo, 2015
Abstract: How did Norwegian immigrants imagine they belonged in and to America during the first thirty years of emigration? This study investigates expressions and perceptions of belonging among Norwegian immigrants in the American Midwest. Operationalizing belonging as an analytical concept for historical research, the study defines three main ways of how immigrants perceived they belonged during the antebellum era and beyond. They acquired a sense of belonging, as may be observed in discussions and expressions of homesickness and longing. They imagined that their role as settlers gave them reason for belonging in America. And whereas they perceived clear limits to belonging to an American nation at present, they imagined that they would eventually become part of it through a future process of amalgamation. After exposing antebellum perceptions of belonging, the study proceeds by relating these perceptions to the postbellum development of homemaking myths. The vernacular pluralism of the antebellum era established ways of imagining belonging to an American nation which outlasted the Civil War. Reviewing two Norwegian-American scholars ideas of America as a settler empire and their ideas of American nationality during the late nineteenth century, the study suggests a continuity in perceptions of belonging from the 1850s to at least the 1890s.
Filed under: Uncategorized |