National Relations : Public diplomacy, national identity and the Swedish Institute 1945-1970
Abstract: This thesis considers the first twenty-five years of the semi-governmental Swedish Institute for Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries. Specifically, this is done through an analysis of the Institute’s funding, its policy discussions and its produced materials.The history of the actors involved shows how Swedish public diplomacy was characterised by contending notions of political, commercial and cultural representation. Different organisations and groups claimed to represent the nation in different ways at different times.The history of prevailing ideas at the Institute shows how the communication of Sweden was not simply conceived of as a process of manipulation or as an altruistic engagement with humankind. Rather, it promised potential solutions to a wide array of problems. And although scholarly enlightenment and neutral information were held up as ideals, these were discourses that attributed power and influence to certain groups of experts and particular societal interests.The history of the produced narratives shows how notions of Sweden’s uniqueness were closely related to changing ideals of normalcy. Different methods were used to communicate the nation as something appealing rather than as something imposing. They changed along with economic, political and social processes at the national and global level.The thesis draws attention to how Sweden in the post-war world had to be popularly communicated in the wake of democratisation and trends towards internationalisation. At the same time, such communication increasingly became the domain of professionals in advertising, public relations and marketing.It also argues that transnational discourses of science and associated international hegemonic interpretations of modernity provided specific models for how Sweden was imagined and theorised. For this reason, the planned and professionalised communication of the nation became a crucial part of legitimising its continued existence.
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