The Lost Swedish Tribe

Reapproaching the history of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine

Omslag för The Lost Swedish Tribe: Reapproaching the history of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine

Wawrzeniuk, Piotr (red.); Malitska, Julia (red.)

In the spring of 1782 a group of peasants of Swedish origin reached their destination on the right bank of Dnipro River in Ukraine. The village they founded became known as “Gammalsvenskby” (Russian “Staroshvedskoe,” English “Old Swedish Village”). In the 1880s links were established with Sweden and Swedophone Finland where the villagers were seen through a nationalistic-romantic prism and in broad circles became known as a brave group of people who had preserved their Swedish culture in hostile surroundings; in the terminology of this volume, a “lost Swedish tribe”. The village remained largely intact until 1929, when in the aftermath of the Russian revolution a majority of the villagers decided to leave for Sweden. When they arrived, there was disappointment. Neither Sweden nor the lost tribe lived up to expectations. Some of the villagers returned to Ukraine and the USSR.

This book offers an alternative perspective on Gammalsvenskby. The changing fortunes of the villagers are largely seen in the light of two grand top-down modernization projects – Russia’s imperial, originating in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and the Soviet, carried out in the early 1920s – but also of the modernization projects in Sweden and Finland. The story the book has to tell of Gammalsvenskby is a new one, and moreover, it is a story of relevance also for the history of Russia, Ukraine, Sweden and Finland.

Huddinge : Södertörns högskola, 2014. 151 sidor.

ISBN 978-91-86069-85-8

Serie: Research Reports, 1403-5111 ; 2014:1