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Vikings across the Atlantic

Emigration and the Building of a Greater Norway, 1860–1945

2012
Author:

Daron W. Olson

Vikings across the Atlantic

The making of a Greater Norway, in which both the homeland and its emigrants belong

In Vikings across the Atlantic, Daron W. Olson reveals how the vision of a Greater Norway expanded the boundaries of the Norwegian nation. He depicts Norway as a larger community in which membership is constructed or imagined, a status of belonging defined not by physical proximity but through qualities such as culture and shared traditions.

Vikings across the Atlantic makes a compelling contribution to studies of Norwegian American immigration and Norwegian nationalism.

The Annals of Iowa

Around the year 1000 a Viking ship landed on the Atlantic coast of what would one day be North America. Nearly a millennium later, on June 7, 1945, Norway’s King Haakon VII returned from exile under guard of the American Ninety-ninth—or “Viking”—Battalion. In Vikings across the Atlantic, Daron W. Olson reveals how these two moments form narrative poles for the vision of a Greater Norway that expanded the boundaries of the Norwegian nation.

Looking at matters of religion, literature, media, and ethnicity, Olson explores how Norwegian Americans’ myths about themselves changed over time in relation to a broader Anglo-American culture, while at the same time influencing and being influenced by the burgeoning national culture of their homeland. Beginning in the 1920s, homeland Norwegian identity-makers framed the concept of the Greater Norway, which viewed the Norwegian nation as having two halves: Norwegians who resided in the homeland and those who had emigrated from Norway, especially those in America. Far from being merely symbolic, this idea, Olson shows, was actually tested by the ordeal of World War II, when Norwegians the world over demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice and even die for the Greater Norway.

In its transnational approach, Olson’s book brings a new perspective to immigrant studies and theories of nationalism; Vikings across the Atlantic depicts the nation as a larger community in which membership is constructed or imagined, a status of belonging defined not by physical proximity but through qualities such as culture and shared traditions.

Vikings across the Atlantic

Daron W. Olson is assistant professor of history at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana.

Vikings across the Atlantic

Vikings across the Atlantic makes a compelling contribution to studies of Norwegian American immigration and Norwegian nationalism.

The Annals of Iowa

Vikings across the Atlantic

Contents

Introduction: Mythmaking and Identity

1. Creating Home: The Roots of Norwegian Emigration
2. Belonging to the Nation: Origin Myths and the Argument to be American, 1860–1890
3. Modern Vikings: The Challenge to Anglo-American Superiority, 1890–1917
4. Backlash: Xenophobia and the Pressure to Assimilate, 1917–1929
5. A Shared Homeland: Celebrating Norwegian Identity Across the Atlantic, 1929–1945

Conclusion: Building a Greater Norway

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index