In Western settlements such as those in Utah, historical circumstances provided an opportunity for Scandinavianism, that is explicit or implicit promotion of a pan-ethnicity that elides the national divisions among Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and Icelanders, lumping these groups into a general rubric based on perceived language and cultural similarities and common social, religious, and political interests. How and why this lumping occurred is well illustrated in two Rocky Mountain regions, the Mormon culture area centered in Utah and the western Montana mining and smelting region. In Utah, Scandinavianism flourished through institutionalized means, encouraged both by the structures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS, or Mormons) and by secular institutions. In Montana, while institutions also played a role, informal cultural groups and social patterns were important in creating Scandinavianism. The differing historical and social contexts of Scandinavianism in these two regions during the period 1890 through the 1920s produced differing Scandinavianisms supported by a variety of cultural strategies. These strategies ranged from selection and intensification (Toelken) of Scandinavian customs to symbolic ethnic claims that lacked ethnic content (Gans). Sources for this study include Scandinavian-language newspapers published in Utah and Montana, records of social organizations, census data, letters, and autobiographies, as well as historical studies of Scandinavian settlement in Utah and Montana.
Submit an update or correction to this abstract.