The Red Cross helping refugees at Stockholm Central Station. Photo: Ulla Engberg/SR
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The Red Cross helping refugees at Stockholm Central Station. Photo: Ulla Engberg/SR
Volunteers at Stockholm Central Station, waiting for refugees to step off the train from Malmö. Photo: Ulf Bungerfeldt/Sveriges Radio
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Volunteers at Stockholm Central Station, waiting for refugees to step off the train from Malmö. Photo: Ulf Bungerfeldt/Sveriges Radio
Fruit, sandwiches and water handed out to refugees at Stockholm central station last autumn. Photo: Julius Bengtsson/ Sveriges Radio.
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Fruit, sandwiches and water handed out to refugees at Stockholm central station last autumn. Photo: Julius Bengtsson/ Sveriges Radio.
Folklore expert Jonas Engman at the Nordic Museum. Photo: Ronnie Ritterland / Sveriges Radio
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Folklore expert Jonas Engman at the Nordic Museum. Photo: Ronnie Ritterland / Sveriges Radio

Nordic Museum collects memories of migrants

"For us not to document and understand this is the same as not documenting our own cultural history"
5:24 min

The Nordic Museum has started collecting items and stories from refugees who come to Sweden as a way to document what is happening here today.

During the autumn, when the number of refugees increased a lot, and soon over 10,000 people were coming to Sweden every week, the Nordic Museum in Stockholm started sending ethnologists and photographers to the central train station interview some of the people who ended up there from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Nordic Museum in its history has documented what happens in Sweden and the Nordic countries. And we have no material whatsoever from refugees. You have to go back to the years after the Second World War when we had lots of Jewish prisoners from the concentration camps, then we took pictures and interviewed them - but since then we have nothing," said Jonas Engman, folklore expert at the Nordic Museum, who initiated the project.

So far, not too many items - or artifacts as Jonas Engman calls them - have been collected, but he hopes that will increase over the coming year, so that some time next year, they can be put together to an exhibition on migration and globalisation related to Sweden.

"The Nordic Museum is constantly documenting the world around us, so one thing that we have been documenting for decades is a kind of Swedishness. And the last two three decades in Sweden, the Swedishness has really been challenged by migration, so we have to consider this as a way to understand our time," said Jonas Engman.

"Since Sweden, like most countries in Europe, is exposed to (whether we like it or not) globalisation and migration, we are a migratory country. For us not to document and understand this, would be the same as if we did not document our own cultural history, our own time. Migration is the one key ideological and cultural social question in the Nordic countries, as well as all over Europe of course, so we have to," he said.

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