Dr. Schnell is an assistant professor of geography at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, Pennsylvania 19530.
CREATING NARRATIVES OF PLACE AND IDENTITY IN “LITTLE SWEDEN, U.S.A.”*
Article first published online: 21 APR 2010
2003 American Geographical Society
Volume 93, Issue 1, pages 1–29, January 2003
How to Cite
SCHNELL, S. M. (2003), CREATING NARRATIVES OF PLACE AND IDENTITY IN “LITTLE SWEDEN, U.S.A.”. Geographical Review, 93: 1–29. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2003.tb00018.x
I would like to thank Pete Shortridge, Garth Myers, Bob Nunley, Rita Napier, and Terry Slocum for their helpful input during this project. Also, many thanks to Lisa Schnell for her comments on an earlier draft of this article. Most of all, I would like to thank the residents of Lindsborg who gave me their time and insight, and particularly Kathryn and Carl Frantz, for their boundless hospitality during my visits to Lindsborg.
- Issue published online: 21 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 21 APR 2010
- place identity;
- Swedish Americans
ABSTRACT. In Lindsborg, Kansas—“Little Sweden, U.S.A.”—the streets are lined with shops offering “An Adventure in Swedish Tradition,” and residents put on numerous festivals throughout the year highlighting Swedish folk customs. Such ethnic tourist towns have become increasingly widespread in the United States over the past thirty years. Tourists tend to perceive these places as towns where folk culture has been passed down unchanged for generations, while academics tend to dismiss residents' ethnicity as crass commercialism. Neither view is correct. Ethnicity and tradition are not static but constantly invented and reinvented. Modern folk ethnicity, among European Americans in particular, is simply the most recent incarnation of this process, one that attempts to recover ties to a specific, small-scale landscape and history. This article explores the changing nature of the narratives of ethnicity and place-based identity that the residents of Lindsborg have used to create a place for themselves in American society.