According to the 1970 census, Scandinavian immigration to America has virtually ceased; the Scandinavian-American ethnic...

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SCANPRESCENCE: THE SCANDINAVIAN INFLUENCE IN NORTH AMERICA

According to the 1970 census, Scandinavian immigration to America has virtually ceased; the Scandinavian-American ethnic population--the first and second generations--has peaked and can only decline. This stark fact (uncovered by the head of SAS public relations) occasioned a convocation of specialists at the Univ. of Minnesota in 1973 to consider the problem: ""If the Scandinavian presence is worth preserving, how does one go about it?"" Keynoter Joshua Fishman (Language Loyalty in the United States, 1966) ranks Scan-consciousness with the new ethnicity triggered by black protest and embraced by Greek-Americans, Italian-Americans, etc. Succeeding reports attest to the growth of some identity groups (e.g., Sons of Norway) even as traditional immigrant institutions--the foreign-language press, the ethnic churches--decline and die. Language study and other cultural pursuits are on the rise, and cheap air travel encourages visits to the homeland. But few participants follow Fishman in endorsing ethnicity as the sole or prime guarantor of a Scandinavian presence. ""You don't have to be an ethnic to be interested in an important subject,"" quips Franklin Scott (Claremont); and Einar Haugen (Harvard), summing up, would see ethnicity transformed into ""a continuing interest on the part of Americans, with or without ethnic ties."" Both suggest, indeed, that ethnicity alone ill-serves Scandinavian scholarship or culture. Interspersed with the substantive material is considerable shoptalk of the ""improving communications"" sorts--the consequence of publishing the proceedings in toto. At the same time, identifying footnotes and a directory of organizations might well have been added. But this has the merit of raw material, that much can be made of it.

Pub Date: March 17, 1976

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976