Between 'Föglö' and 'Fölisön'


Through my deconstructive analysis of the individual case of the Swedish-speaking Finnish solicitor and joint leader of the Aland movement for reunion with Sweden, Carl Bjorkman, I show in this article that the phenomenon of Finland-Swedish nationalism (which began to gain firm ground in the late nineteenth century) was the challenged object of a supplementary national process with utopian characteristics from the very beginning. Bjorkman's personal negotiation of the central Finland-Swedish discursive constituents of coastal-cum-insular imagery led him to distance himself from Finland-Swedish nationalism and ultimately to be successfully engaged with the Aland movement for reunion with Sweden in the years 1917-1921 . In its later inverted variety, however, Bjorkman's vision contributed to his own defeat in 1938, when he had to resign from his long-held position as the first lantråd of the autonomous islands. Bjorkman's personal national performance, with far-reaching political consequences, can nevertheless be said to have dislocated 'the Finland-Swedish nation' by strongly contributing to the– from a Finland-Swedish perspective – ironically tautological establishment of an autonomous Swedish-speaking community on Finnish territory. Since 1922, this community has had remarkably stronger legislative as well as symbolical means of action than the remaining Swedish-speaking population in Finland.

How to Cite

Ahlbäck, P. M., (2004) “Between 'Föglö' and 'Fölisön'”, Ethnologia Europaea 34(1), 60-69. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Pia Maria Ahlbäck (Abo Akademi University)



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