In Europe, increased geopolitical tensions as well as neo-nationalism, growing populism and the migrant situation draw political attention to issues of national belonging, borders and gender relations. At stake are understandings of national identity – of who we are, and what history and values that define us.

In this context, constructions of national heritage and collective memories are increasingly controversial. The aim of this transdisciplinary project is to investigate how Sweden’s Cold War history is given societal meaning in the creation of a military heritage. How is national identity and gender negotiated when experiences of geopolitical threats and memories of fear and insecurity are framed as heritage? The project’s design is based on joint fieldwork at military heritage sites, including official exhibitions, commercialized tourist establishments and informal uses of military structures.

The project combines two research fields – critical heritage studies and feminist international relations (IR). Contributions concern how a “dark” heritage is constructed and commercialized in a national context of prominent peace narratives. Recognizing that women’s agency and experiences tend to be omitted in military memorializations, this project addresses the gender implications of military heritagization. The research also provides new knowledge on how Swedish cultural self-understanding connects to the military.

Visit the project's website.

Contact: Maria Wendt