Between 1825 and 1930 over two million Scandinavians left their homelands as part of a mass exodus from Northern Europe, settling across the face of the globe and reestablishing networks of imagined communion. The Scandinavian-Australian newspaper, Norden (1896-1940), was integral in creating such networks and connecting migrant communities across vast transnational spaces, as well as
historicising the extent of the Scandinavian diaspora’s activities in the Antipodes. As a comprehensive, chronologically detailed record of the migrant communities’
activities and aspirations over almost half a century, Norden’s records have been a veritable gold mine of information concerning one of Australasia’s overlooked
minority groups. However, despite its immense value as a source and significance as a long-lived migrant institution, a thorough history of the Scandinavian-Australian migrant press remains unwritten. Furthermore, its overlooked importance as a cultural and social connector – and pan-Scandinavian community unifier – warrants direct scholarly attention.
This thesis charts the history of the Scandinavian foreign-language press in Australasia, from the first attempts to establish a migrant newspaper in the 1850s to the decline of Norden and its readership during World War II. Norden’s
establishment in the 1890s enabled scattered Scandinavian readers to identify as a small yet unified cultural group, and their ensuing involvement in wider society
marks it as a significant site for migrant community-building despite Australia’s vast distances. More importantly, this thesis uses Norden’s influence to examine two major historiographical issues regarding Scandinavian-Australian migrants, namely pan-Scandinavian versus nationalist sentiments and the reactions of Scandinavians to
Australian assimilation pressures. I argue that the Scandinavian foreign-language press transcended initial goals of reconnecting migrants to their countries of origin,
and instead was critically influential in attempting to ethnicise a united Scandinavian-Australian identity. As an informational vehicle of first-generation migrants, Norden enabled isolated Scandinavians to reconnect on grounds of shared heritage and receive relevant news based on their individual circumstances, tailored to them in their own vernacular languages. It also gave a fragmented segment of
Australia’s immigrant population a much-needed sense of direction and purpose. While fostering this united sense of community was, in itself, insufficient to guarantee migrant identity, Norden’s continual enunciation of its readership’s
uncertain status within Australian society – especially through the airing of grievances and stories of societal friction – worked together with other political,
economic and social exclusionary factors to drive expressions of a ‘Scandinavian-Australian’ migrant group identity forward.
Norden acted as a powerful symbol of pan-Scandinavian unity at a time when homeland nationalist sentiments threatened to fragment migrants into separate Swedish, Danish and Norwegian groups, and destroy a united readership. While the
individual nationalisation of migrant churches, clubs and societies limited the efficacy of pan-Scandinavian co-operation in Australia, this thesis argues that migrant newspapers required an inclusive pan-Scandinavian readership for economic and social survival. It is here that Norden’s real significance is evident. In reestablishing networks of belonging and encouraging socially constructed migrant groups to exist within a framework of dominant British-Australian society, Norden
was indirectly combating assimilation pressures felt by its first-generation readership through the continuation of shared heritage, languages, and pan-Scandinavian
cultural pursuits. In rallying a readership to its united cause, Norden ensured its own survival for as long as the migrant community’s sense of ethnic identity lasted.