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Historia skriven i sten?: Bruket av Kensingtonstenen som historiekultur i svenska och amerikanska utställningsrum
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2010 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
History Written in Stone? : Uses of the Kensington Rune Stone as Historical Culture in Swedish and American Exhibitions (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this master thesis is to analyze how and why Scandinavian-American history has been used in exhibitions in both Scandinavia and the United States after the end of the Great Migration. More specifically, the thesis deals with the Swedish and American exhibitions of the controversial Kensington Rune Stone, discovered in Minnesota in 1898. Despite the fact that its authenticity has been disputed by academic expertise, it has been displayed by many prominent actors. The Rune Stone is one of many purportedly pre-Columbian artifacts found in the United States. Moreover, it is an identity marker, harboring many kinds of identity constructions. The thesis therefore focuses on the meanings that the Rune Stone has been charged with since its discovery, as historical culture and in specific exhibits, on how it has been displayed, and on why it has been exhibited at  national museums in both Sweden and the United States. 

The principal source materials are five exhibitions of the Kensington Rune Stone. Through an analysis of previous research about the Rune Stone, four dimensions in the historical culture surrounding the Stone have been isolated, which are used as theoretical tools in the analysis. Hence, the previous research is viewed as secondary source materials. Structured into two phases, the analysis highlights both the making of the exhibits and the public display settings. The study shows why the actors considered the Rune Stone important, which dimensions of the historical culture that were activated, and how the actors narrated the history to the public. 

This master thesis argues that the Scandinavian-American use of history consists of several dimensions and should be comprehended within a transnational context. The exhibitions of the Kensington Rune Stone differ significantly from each other. From a Swedish point of view, the uses of the Rune Stone in America, as part of a “Viking discourse”, may be regarded as both vulgar and incorrect. However, this study shows that all exhibitions have had common implications. The uses of history take place within national and regional contexts and discourses, but the historical culture is hybridized and entangled across national borders. Consequently, the pre-Columbian historical culture has accompanied the Rune Stone when it moved between cultural contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 82 p.
Keyword [en]
The Kensington Rune Stone, Scandinavian-American history, uses of history, historical culture, identity, transnational history, museum studies
Keyword [sv]
Kensingtonstenen, skandinavisk-amerikansk historia, historiebruk, historiekultur, identitet, transnationell historia, museologi
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-125555OAI: diva2:320121
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-03-19 Created: 2010-05-21 Last updated: 2012-03-19Bibliographically approved

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