In this oral presentation I will discuss two aspects of “branding” in the context of the Åland Islands. First I will consider the possibilities for the branding of “Åland” in the marketplace. I will focus primarily on the passenger ferries, tourism, and agriculture and discuss the various meanings that could be conveyed by the concept of Åland to outsiders, and how these meanings might be mobilized to enhance the economic potential of these industries. Secondly, I will consider “branding” in its alternative sense of burning a mark on the flesh, an aspect of the concept of branding that is increasingly important in a globalized Scandinavia. The movement of people from non-European countries to Scandinavia presents a dilemma for people who see themselves as open, tolerant, and committed to human rights but who also conceive of racial identities in essentialist terms, which brands immigrants who do not look Scandinavian (or European) as Different, as outsiders even for the generations who are born in Scandinavia. I then consider this dynamic in the context of Åland and the discussion of what it means to be an Ålander, and who is a “true” Ålander, in the face of immigration to Åland from all over the world. I review some comments from the latest election campaign as well as interviews I have conducted with Ålanders at home and in Sweden to explore the various meanings that Åland has for its residents and how these meanings might support or hinder the integration of immigrants on Åland.
Åland International Institute of Comparative Island Studies 2nd Annual Conference