Ett hållbart minne? Historiebruk kring Georg Carl von Döbeln 1848 – 2009
Sammanfattning: The purpose of this thesis is to examine the use of history in relation to General Georg Carl von Döbeln (1758–1820), a prominent Swedish commander in the “Finnish War” of 1808–1809. The empirical material is extensive and includes, among others, a dissertation, biographies, movies, newspapers and weekly journals, an opera, a radio play, novels, a students’ farce, theatre plays, video recordings from various commemorative events, and annuals.Based on these sources and a theoretical framework originating with German historical theorist Jörn Rüsen, the various ways in which Döbeln has been used between 1848 and 2009 is examined by applying a categorization of three main uses: educational, popular and commemorative.By way of this categorization and the very long period of examination, the study reveals how stereotypical and fictional conceptions about cultural characteristics, often virtues perceived as being authentically Swedish, are created. The investigation shows that Döbeln, a real historical person, was born as a symbolic figure through a collection of poems written by Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg in 1848.The thesis also reveals how the uses of Döbeln follow a cyclical pattern and how he, as a symbolic figure, is re-assigned to new tasks and roles as society changes on the national or international level.One point of departure for the study is the more general question of whether nationalism has run its course or if it has only taken on new forms. In the case of Döbeln, various agents have increasingly used him for marketing purposes, often local in character, from the 1980s onward. This preservation of a relatively obscure, but still well established, symbolic figure with connections to various localities may be explained by the problem of accelerating rural deprivation. The declining prospects of depopulated regions where all kinds of services are dismantled create incentives to preserve and nurture historically unique events that have occurred in the area. These events and characters serve to bolster local identity and support the lucrative, rapidly growing sector of heritage tourism in Sweden, the Nordic countries, and the EU.Finally, the study points to the fact that the use of a historical person for a specific purpose often comes with an expiration date. This date depends on two factors, one relating to how professional historians have treated Döbeln as a symbolic figure and the other to what needs other users have of him and the tasks that he can perform.
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