Becoming Swedish-American : The construction of an ethnic identity in the Augustana Synod, 1860-1917

Sammanfattning: This dissertation examines the construction of an ethnic identity in the Swedish-American community around the turn of the century 1900. It takes its starting points in discussions of the nature of ethnic identity, the role of ethnic leadership, and the process of nation-building and nationalism in 19th-century Europe and America.The study focuses on the largest organization founded by Swedish immigrants in theUnited States, the Lutheran denomination the Augustana Synod, and examines its rolefor the creation of an ethnic identity. Three fundamental questions are posed: How didan ethnic identity develop in the Augustana Synod, what did it consist of, and why didit come into being. Three main empirical areas are used to analyze the development andcontents of the Swedish-American identity: the Synod's largest institution of highereducation, Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois; the Synod's publishing house,the Augustana Book Concern; and the way in which a Swedish-American history wasfashioned within the Synod.The results of the study show how a Swedish-American identity was constructed by a cultural leadership in the Augustana Synod, This idealized and romanticized identity included Swedish, Swedish-American, and American cultural elements. An awareness of a Swedish-American culture, separate from both Sweden and the United States, developed in which the construction of a Swedish-American history played an important role, emphasizing an early Swedish presence on the American continent and significant Swedish and Swedish-American contributions to the American republic. The reasons for the creation of the identity are seen in the light of the nature of American nationalism, which made it possible for European immigrant groups to develop and maintain ethnic identities and still be loyal Americans.

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