Piero Cola about Swedish historiography and national identity

Piero Cola is one of the few foreign intellectuals that has taken a critical view to Swedish self-images.

In an article from 2002 he discusses Sweden’s self-image in the 20th century and its relation to collective historical memory. Here is one quote, which is about part of the contents of the 1997 forced sterilization debate.

“The fact that fifty years on, the racial issue could reemerge with such force confirms how much the mythical element in the transmission of social memory – linked as it is to emotions, and interacting with identity – not only deforms national history, but is the very condition of its interiorization”

What Cola is trying to say is that Swedish officialdom has denied the existence of racial attitudes in Sweden during the 20th century, because this reality has not been compatible with received self-images.

Cola, Piero. “Race, Nation, and Folk: On the Repressed Memory of World War II in Sweden and its Hidden Categories”. In: Cultur and Crisis: The Case of Germany and Sweden. Trägårdh, Lars and Witoszek, Nina (ed.). New York: Berghahn Books, 2002, 131-154, 137.

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