The Monument at the Border: Concerning the Spatial Turn and a Peace Monument
2008 (English)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 74, no 2, 15-51 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In mid-August 194, two weeks after the outbreak of World War I, Scandinavian peace activists gathered at the Swedish-Norwegian border to inaugurate a monument to commemorate a century of peace between Sweden and Norway. Public monuments situated on the border between two nation-states, promulgating the ideal of peace, were very rare before 1945. Despite this peculiarity, my analysis also has a general validity. Research about monuments and borders can be enriched by new approaches within the humanities and the social sciences. During the past two decades, scholars have ascribed analytical content to concepts such as maps, mapping, geography, space and place. This development has been labelled the spatial turn. The first part of this article discusses the origins of this scholarship, and clarifies the analytical meanings of the notoriously ambiguous concepts of space and place. Subsequently, I discuss some crucial theoretical implications of an historical perspective on spatiality. A survey of Swedish historical research about monuments and memorials suggests that a more thorough spatial perspective has been fairly absent to date. My case study on the Swedish-Norwegian border monument suggests ways a spatial perspective can be beneficial in analyzing monuments. Inspired by the concept of geographical scale I argue that it was not only the nation that was the geographical point of reference. In the political geography of the Scandinavian peace activists, several other scales were brought to the fore: the regional scale, as well as the Scandinavian, the European and a Global scale. These geographical scales also merged with a narrative of culture and civilization. At the inauguration Sweden and Norway came to represent a mission civilisatrice based on peace, progress and cooperation. During the course of the 20th century these concepts became crucial discursive resources in creating the Scandinavian welfare states.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 74, no 2, 15-51 p.
Space, place, spatial turn, peace monument, memorial, borders, 20th century, Scandinavia
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-139836ISI: 000261993800003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-139836DiVA: diva2:382197