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Teaching political science through memory work
Unformatted Document Text:  participants refer to literature that discusses and questions naturalised contructions of the “nation”, while at the same time a form of naturalisation of the nation takes place in their own texts. In one of the assignments, this contradiction is expressed as follows: In the memory story we found that Swedishness was constructed in opposition to the cultures of other nations. We find cultural expressions, such as singing, dancing, and the Swedish flag painted on the body. These expressions strengthened the national feeling of belonging. [...] One thing we missed in the litterature, was that none discussed how important sport events are to strengthen the national spirit. At the same time as national belonging is understood as someting non-essential, something that is created in opposition to “the other”, this quote also expresses an understanding of the existence of a national spirit or national character. In the classroom discussions, understandings of how French people or Swedish people “are” were repeatedly expressed, and often the Nation was described not only as unproblematic and natural but also as basically nice and good. The flag is associated with joy, with feelings of belonging and safety and with place and identity. While the papers discussed and criticised the construction of a superior national “we”, a perceived lacking of national identity is presented as a major problem: we need more Swedishness, a stronger sense of national cohesion. The flag should be a more powerful symbol, one group writes; and referring to immigrants in Sweden, another group states that “you have to introduce them to the National Day quickly and thererby create something that they have in common with all the other people living in Sweden”. A concern is also expressed that Swedes are too ashamed of their nationality instead of being proud of it. We interpret some of these lines of reasoning as a way of deferring accusations of racism. It becomes important to claim national pride without being a racist. A “good” nationalism is separeted from a “bad” one, and the problem of racism is transformed so that it does not primarily have to do with our way of constructing the nation but with our lack of national pride. 15

Authors: Wendt, Maria. and Åse, Cecilia.
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participants refer to literature that discusses and questions naturalised contructions of the
“nation”, while at the same time a form of naturalisation of the nation takes place in their own
texts. In one of the assignments, this contradiction is expressed as follows:
In the memory story we found that Swedishness was constructed in
opposition to the cultures of other nations. We find cultural expressions,
such as singing, dancing, and the Swedish flag painted on the body. These
expressions strengthened the national feeling of belonging. [...] One thing
we missed in the litterature, was that none discussed how important sport
events are to strengthen the national spirit.
At the same time as national belonging is understood as someting non-essential, something that is
created in opposition to “the other”, this quote also expresses an understanding of the existence
of a national spirit or national character. In the classroom discussions, understandings of how
French people or Swedish people “are” were repeatedly expressed, and often the Nation was
described not only as unproblematic and natural but also as basically nice and good. The flag is
associated with joy, with feelings of belonging and safety and with place and identity. While the
papers discussed and criticised the construction of a superior national “we”, a perceived lacking
of national identity is presented as a major problem: we need more Swedishness, a stronger sense
of national cohesion. The flag should be a more powerful symbol, one group writes; and referring
to immigrants in Sweden, another group states that “you have to introduce them to the National
Day quickly and thererby create something that they have in common with all the other people
living in Sweden”. A concern is also expressed that Swedes are too ashamed of their nationality
instead of being proud of it. We interpret some of these lines of reasoning as a way of deferring
accusations of racism. It becomes important to claim national pride without being a racist. A
“good” nationalism is separeted from a “bad” one, and the problem of racism is transformed so
that it does not primarily have to do with our way of constructing the nation but with our lack of
national pride.
15


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