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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32037

Title: New Icelandic Ethnoscapes: Material, Visual, and Oral Terrains of Cultural Expression in Icelandic-Canadian history, 1875 - Present
Authors: Bertram, Laurie K.
Advisor: Iacovetta, Franca
Department: History
Keywords: Icelandic Canadians
Material culture
Immigration and ethnicity
Scandinavian migration
Manitoba history
Issue Date: 18-Jan-2012
Abstract: This dissertation uses the Icelandic-Canadian community to discuss alternate media and the production of “ethnoscapes,” or landscapes of ethnic identity, on the prairies from 1875 to the present. Drawing from larger historiographies of food, gender, material culture, oral history, and commemoration, it offers an investigation into power, acculturation, and representation using often-marginalized terrains of Canadian ethnic expression. Each of the project’s five chapters examines the cultural history of the community through a different medium. The first chapter uses clothing, one of the most intimate and immediate ways that migrants experienced transition in North America, to explore the impact of poverty, marginalization, disease, climate, and eventual access to Anglo commercial goods on migrant culture. Chapter two analyses the role of food and drink, specifically coffee, alcohol, and vínarterta (a festive layered torte) in everyday life and the development of migrant identity. The third chapter analyses the growth of conservatism and depictions of women in the Icelandic-Canadian community in the twentieth century, with a focus on the decline of radical Icelandic language publications and the rise of ethnic spectacles. Chapter four analyses the impact of centennial and multicultural heritage campaigns on Icelandic-Canadian life, popular narrative, and domestic space by tracing the emergence of the koffort (immigrant trunk) in intergenerational family commemorative practices. Chapter five continues the discussion of popular memory with an examination of the compelling hjátru (superstitious) narrative tradition in the community. It illustrates that Icelandic migrants imported and adapted this tradition to the North American context in a way that also reflected their understanding of colonial violence as an unresolved, disruptive, and damaging intergenerational inheritance. Providing an alternate view of the community beyond either cultural endurance or assimilation, this dissertation argues that the multiple material, visual, and oral conduits through which members have experienced life in the New World have been crucial to the construction of Icelandic-Canadian identity. It is through these terrains that community members have continually engaged with public expectations and demands for both ethnic performance and suppression. The fluidity of these forms and forums and their facilitation of members’ engagement with, adaptations to, and contestation of images of ethnicity and history have enabled the continual construction of Icelandic identities in North America 135 years after departure.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32037
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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