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Welcome Home Mr Swanson

Welcome Home Mr Swanson
Swedish Emigrants and Swedishness on Film

Ann-Kristin Wallengren

Nordic Academic Press
Welcome Home Mr Swanson

Between 1840 and 1940, over one million people emigrated from Sweden to  
America. The fact that so many chose to leave to seek a better life  
across the Atlantic was a major trauma for the Swedish nation.  
Filmmakers were not slow to pick up on an exodus that proved to be of  
lasting importance for the Swedes national identity. In Welcome Home Mr  
Swanson, the film studies scholar Ann-Kristin Wallengren analyses the  
ways in which Swedish emigrants and Swedish-American returnees are  
depicted in Swedish film between 1910 and 1950, continuing on to recent  
films and television shows. Were Swedens emigrants seen as national  
traitors or as brave trailblazers who might return home with modern  
ideas? Many of the Swedish films were distributed to the US, and  
Wallengren discusses the notions of Sweden and Swedishness that  
circulated there as a result. She also considers the image of Swedish  
immigrant women in American filmsa representation that bore little  
resemblance to the Swedes idealized view. Wallengren shows how  
ideologies of nationality had a prominent place in the films narratives,  
resulting in films that project enduring perceptions of Swedish national  
identity and the American way of life.