The eliminated islands. Exclusion in a textbook on local history
This article examines reactions to being made invisible and excluded within the context of the Åland islands. The Åland Islands constitute an autonomous province within Finland, and form an archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia in between Finland and Sweden. Based on newspaper clippings dating to the fall of 2008, I investigate how a textbook on local history caused debate and feelings of exclusion. This despite the fact that previous to the publication of the book, Tidernas Åland, the publishers stated that it was expected to strengthen the local identity of the pupils. The provincial government financed the publication of the textbook, while the educational authorities were part of the editor group behind it.
The problem that the textbook caused was that parts of the Åland archipelago were cut out of some of the maps in the book. As the local authorities stood behind the publication, the textbook received a figurative stamp of official approval. Therefore, the reactions it caused and that were displayed through one of the local newspapers were relatively strong. I analyze the newspaper material using cultural analysis, more precisely contrasting. By posing myself the question what something is not, I approach the underlying, culture-based patterns that this debate is part of.
My theoretical framework is based on identifying meaningful categories and their relationships. Susanne V. Knudsen has introduced the concept of norm-student to describe the standards for the designated reader of educational textbooks. Categories observed within the newspaper texts can be included in what Owe Ronström calls the discourse on island mentality. It causes islanders to feel inferior to surrounding mainland communities because of the islands' relative remoteness and marginalization. In addition, I use Michel Foucault's thoughts on power relations, which also open up to opportunities of resistance within my source materials.
The analysis shows that islanders experience that power is exercised against them, and the power comes from the mainland. Categorizations and contrasts such as mainland or city – archipelago, well-integrated – isolated, center – periphery, abundance of history – lacking history, as well as important – unimportant can be identified within the texts of the newspapers. In addition, inhabitants of the archipelago emphasize that their feeling of being an outsider is ongoing, and that the message of exclusion received through various channels is concentrated by repetition.
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
- Power relations
- Local history
- History teaching