PERFORMING A PRESENT FROM THE PAST

Abstract

Drawing on actor-network theory and theories of performance, this article discusses gift-giving as an expansive form of materializing relationships and delimiting boundaries between nations, regions, organizations and individuals in the wake of migration. Initially, I discuss gift-giving as a way of materializing relationships and building networks. Thereafter, I map out the social life of the Värmland Gift to America, a collection donated by the Värmland province in Sweden to the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis in 1952. I suggest the coinage of heritage gift as a term to describe gifts with dense biographies which contain and enact multiple performances that simultaneously create and recreate the idea of gift-giving in its role as an activity that binds people together. The analysis of the Värmland Gift shows how such a heritage gift kept on the move over time involves not one but a series of performances which have fostered dynamic transatlantic relationships for over fifty years.

Keywords

gift-giving, heritage gift, transnational relationships, emigration

How to Cite

Gradén L. (2010) “PERFORMING A PRESENT FROM THE PAST”, Ethnologia Europaea. 40(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1067

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.
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Authors

Lizette Gradén (Department of Design, Craft and Textile Art at Konstfack)

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Licence

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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