From Oskar Parish, Småland, to Manistique, Michigan: Placing People and Depicting Places

Susanne Nylund Skog
2020 Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research  
Karl Gösta Gilstring's folklore collection is the largest made by a single Nordic researcher in modern times. The basis for the collection was the network of approximately 700 informants with whom Gilstring corresponded. In this article, the empirical focus is on Gilstring's correspondence during the 1960s with one of the informants, Carl Nelson, living in Manistique, Michigan. In the collection, Carl Nelson represents Oskar Parish, despite the fact that Nelson only lived there until he was
more » ... re until he was seventeen and, in his stories, seldom referred to the parish. What were the ideological and scientific premises for such a connection between a person and a place? How did Carl Nelson depict the places of Gilstring's interest? The aim of the article is to explore how Carl Nelson depicted places in his stories, as well as to contextualize the stories with an analysis of the ideological and scientific premises of Karl Gösta Gilstring's collection. In addition, the article aims to highlight and discuss the working method of such an analysis. The article concludes that the reason why Gilstring changed the spatial references of Nelson's letters, making it seem as if they spoke of Oskar Parish probably had to do with the way his collection was organized. The ideological and scientific premises for the collection required that the customs and traditions of an individual, in order to be understood as such, needed a geographical place of origin. However, the analysis shows that the stories included in Carl Nelson's letters do not primarily convey traditions and customs from Oskar Parish. Instead, they depict a mythological landscape recreated by the emigrant Carl Nelson in his American home on the outskirts of Manistique, Michigan.
doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.2020v12a10 fatcat:52igh573g5cxpayveyelkjbdxa