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The historical entry and assimilation of Scandinavian immigrants into the privileges of American whiteness is a more vexed and mediated process than might at first appear to be the case. ”3 This act of self-naming one’s own category of European immigrant ethnicity as “white” was an act of reinvention in a country where color line boundaries were life-and-death matters. Although the cultural and political construction of Scandinavian whiteness in America has received little specific attention to date, the African American novelist and essayist James Baldwin problematized it in his 1984 Essence magazine article “On Being ‘White’ .
18 sjöström / seastrom as national hybrid The same year as the Johnson-Reed Act was passed, Victor Sjöström wrote and directed He Who Gets Slapped at the newly consolidated mgm studio in Hollywood. Sjöström constructed that film as an act of both allegorized autobiography and cultural anthropology. The underlying subtext of the film is how Scandinavian racial and ethnic identity in 1920s America required entering into and performing codes of whiteness. Sjöström as an artist and social critic is both conscious of racial issues and aware of how much even Scandinavians must assimilate into a specific racial paradigm.
Capitol rotunda in 1847 and the source of omnipresent popularizations in engravings, school textbooks, postage stamps, and so on, in circulation in nineteenth-century America. The iconographic heft of Christopher Columbus is thus simultaneously evoked and erased in the imperialist pageantry of this sequence. Leif Ericsson is reassigned the Italian explorer’s mythologized role as the first “white” European to set foot in and lay claim to the Americas. And in moving the site of first claim to New England, the film simultaneously trumps and voids Italian American or Spanish-empire entitlements to the founding of white Anglo-America.
Abhinavabharati by Abhinavagupta