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History and State of Research
(1400-1700)

Abstract

Research on antisemitism in Sweden can be divided into two categories: one which has antisemitism as a phenomenon as its object of study, and one where antisemitism constitutes part of the findings but where the object of study is something else (bureaucracies, organizations, etc.). No university currently has a centre for Antisemitism Studies and at centres for Racism Studies research on antisemitism is non-existent. One critical issue is how antisemitism is defined, since some definitions tend only to recognize propagandistic and violent examples; another is the popular notion that antisemitism is “un-Swedish” and therefore not part of Swedish culture. Based on these factors combined, this article argues that antisemitism is a neglected field of research in Sweden.

Abstract

In this paper I ask why a predominantly Evangelical Lutheran North Atlantic society has given Jews and Israel such a central position and role in local and national discussions on religion and politics, culture and society. How do current societal changes in the Faroes, associated with newfound cultural diversity and religious hybridity, affect the special Faroese-Israeli connection? This paper, based on a selection of written media and literary accounts as sources of information, focuses on the period since the end of the twentieth century, but links this period to the whole post-Second World War era in some of its discussions. While the Faroes might be less secular than other Nordic countries, we can see that its religious and cultural identities are dynamic, adapting to new societal premises, and rekindling Faroe Islanders’ passion for Jerusalem.

Abstract

There has never been a Jewish community as such in Greenland, but over the years there have been Jewish visitors who have lived there for a period of time: journalists, nurses, meteorologists, and American and Danish servicemen. Furthermore, the first vessel in the Israeli navy began life as an American coastguard ship that patrolled the Greenlandic coast. This article tells some of these stories and concludes with a short addendum on (the lack of) antisemitism in Greenland.

Abstract

This article deals with antisemitism in Europe and post-Holocaust Sweden and Denmark specifically. The idea that it is always “the same old antisemitism” that pops up and “shows its ugly face” does not find support in this study. Instead, we distinguish between three different kinds of contemporary antisemitisms: Classic antisemitism, Aufklärungsantisemitismus, and Israel-derived antisemitism. Our findings suggest that each of these antisemitisms is inspired by different underlying “philosophies,” and that they are carried by different social groups and manifested in different ways. In the Scandinavian countries today, we find that there is less classic antisemitism, much more Aufklärungsantisemitismus, and a relatively stronger presence of Israel-derived antisemitism. In our analysis this specifically Scandinavian pattern of antisemitisms is closely related to the highly developed processes of modernization in the Scandinavian countries on the one hand and the relatively large numbers of recently arrived immigrants from the Middle East on the other. This appears to imply that antisemitism based on racial prejudices is losing ground, as is antisemitism based on religious convictions. However, according to the European Union Agency For Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Antisemitism: Overview of Data Available in the European Union 2007-2017 (Luxembourg: Luxembourg Publications Office of the European Union, 2018), the incidence of violent antisemitic attacks seems to be on the rise. These typically emanate from small pockets of individuals in the population who share an image of all Jews being accomplices to whatever the State of Israel does. Considering how the processes of modernization operate it is assumed that other countries in Europe will follow a similar trajectory. Rationalization, secularization, and individuation will also come to penetrate these societies and weaken notions of “race” and “religion” as springboards for antisemitism. Thus, tendencies towards Aufklärungsantisemitismus will be strengthened. If integrating and getting rid of the marginalization and condescending treatment of its newly arrived Muslim inhabitants does not succeed, Israel-derived antisemitism can be expected to thrive. The pattern of antisemitisms in Denmark and Sweden might be a preview of what antisemitisms in twenty-first-century Europe could come to look like.

Abstract

This article on researching the portrayal of Jews in medieval Denmark and Sweden argues for the importance of the period for understanding the breadth, nuances, and history of anti-Jewish stereotypes in Scandinavia. I discuss the rather scant previous research on Jews in Old Danish and Old Swedish (East Norse) literature and medieval art. The lack of scholarship is somewhat surprising given the volume of sources available and the many types of investigation they invite. I suggest a number of themes - the question of absent-presence, the role of the Church, and the medieval legacy - that could prove fruitful for future research and provide questions and suggestions for how to approach the material.

Abstract

The central concern of this article is why research on depictions of Jews was almost non-existent in Old Norse-Icelandic Studies until just a few years ago, while in the analogous field of Middle English Studies it has flourished. In addition to surveying the research culture in both disciplines, I consider tangible connections between the medieval English blood libel tradition and the Norwegian-Icelandic cultural elite, with the myth of Kvasir from Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda suggested as an example of how future research based on such connections might look.

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Abstract

This article presents an analysis of the history of antisemitism in Iceland, a country that has never had a significant population of Jews or any Jews who practise Judaism. Due to their geographical location, Icelanders have always feared isolation and have readily embraced anything new from the outside world, including ideas and attitudes. Unfortunately, antisemitism was one of these new “ideas” that was adopted at the end of the nineteenth century in Iceland, where it made a good supplement to the traditional xenophobia that already existed. Antisemitism in Iceland during the twentieth century was part and parcel of the long process of building a national identity, both before and after the country’s independence in 1944. However, as the country was without Jews of its own, it transferred this newly discovered hatred to those it had already despised for years: Danish merchants and other foreigners. In many cases, it was claimed that Danish and German merchants who had no Jewish roots whatsoever were in fact of Jewish descent. The few real Jews who wound up in Iceland were not spared either. They were rejected and expelled, while a large group of Icelanders looked to Hitler’s Germany with interest.Very few individuals with a Jewish background chose to settle in the country after the Second World War and those who did lived cut off from one another and without any possibility of practising their faith. Since 1967 antisemitism has more frequently been vented in terms of anti-Zionism and hatred towards the State of Israel. Icelanders have always been distant from the wars and reality of Europe, so people engaging in acts of antisemitism in Iceland have not thought about its consequences. But in the globalized twenty-first century, antisemitism in Iceland has grabbed the world’s attention. It stands out as an anomaly in a country that prides itself on its tolerance, its free spirit, and its unequivocal defence of human rights.