My research focuses on recent shifts in the sight, sound, and social significance of folk music in Sweden. Whereas Swedish folk music was once an emblem of an exclusive national identity, practitioners today see themselves as members of an international folk music community, and they make this new understanding explicit by aligning themselves musically, culturally, and politically with the country’s non-European immigrant population. Contemporary Swedish musicians identify with non-European musicians through instrumentation, stage attire, choice of traditional repertoire, festival programming, and even music theory. And though efforts to forge this connection intensified in the past decade, folk musicians today are only expanding a trend born during the rise of multiculturalism in Sweden nearly thirty years earlier. My paper explores how Swedish folk musicians conceive of a link between themselves and non-European musicians, how this link is put to political and economic use, and what these endeavors can teach us about music, multiculturalism, and social life in Scandinavia more generally. I argue that by claiming musical internationalism, these musicians draw from various postwar conceptions of Swedish identity, reasserting Sweden as a nation distinguished through its citizens’ social responsibility and global mindedness.
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