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Open Access A Food Nation Without Culinary Heritage? Gastronationalism in Sweden

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Promoting the culinary profile of a nation is a commonly used tool when marketing the food, drink, and culinary tourism sectors of a country. Different versions of gastronationalism (i.e., images of the culinary excellence of a nation) appear in this context. This article explores Swedish gastronationalism. The aim is to nuance and widen the discussion of gastronationalism by offering a historic contextualization and a focus on frictions in the national narrative. Based on a bricolage of ethnographic material—interviews, observations, archive material and official documents—the article takes a historical approach to explore the attempts to develop a new culinary nation. Specific focus is devoted to the absence of culinary heritage. The results show that Swedish gastronationalism consists of a specific view of nationality, where progress, innovativeness, and multiculturalism is highlighted, and heritage and tradition is downplayed. As a result, Sweden has developed a postnationalist gastronationalism. The article traces the roots of this phenomenon to a combination of structures and habits from the time of rationing (1914–1955) and the new national narrative that coincided with the gastronomic revolution starting in the mid-1980s. In conclusion, the article argues that while many versions of gastronationalism use heritagization as a strategy, Sweden attempts to deheritagize the culinary profile of the nation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 14, 2020

This article was made available online on June 27, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "A food nation without culinary heritage? Gastronationalism in Sweden".

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