Petra Österlund

Petra Österlund

Associate Professor

Subject Coordinator

Senior Lecturer

I am associate professor in Ethnology. I am coordinator for Ethnology and the European program, and a teacher in Ethnology, the European program and the Teacher Education Program.

+46 8 608 45 87 +4686084587

Historical and Contemporary Studies


Petra Österlund (earlier: Garberding), associate professor in European Ethnology

I am associate professor in European Ethnology at the Institution for History and Contemporay Studies at Södertörn University. I have a German background; I moved from Germany to Sweden in 1994. My main research interests are historical ethnological research, Swedish-German relations, Critical Discourse Analysis and Discourse-Historical Method. I am both ethnologist and philologist and thats why I am particularly interested in studies that combine cultural research with linguistic studies.

2016-2021 I was the leader of the project "Between East and West: Ideology, aesthetics and politics in the musical relations between Sweden and the GDR 1949-1989. The aim of the project was to analyze the connections of esthetic and musicologial ideas and political ideology and to study the influence of the musical relations on cultural politics within the Cold War context. The project was carried out with two colleagues: Ursula Geisler (Assistant Professor in Musicology) and Henrik Rosengren (Assistant Professor in History), and it was financed by the Baltic Sea Foundation.

Earlier I have worked on a postdoc-project with the title: "Scholarship and Politics: Connections between Swedish and German Ethnology and Folklore 1930–1960". This project I conducted at Uppsala University 2009–2011, and it has been financed by the Swedish Research Council. From this project I have published several articles in Swedish, German and English, and a monograph in Swedish. This study was focusing on the relationship between politics and the scholarship of Folklife Studies/Ethnology, that is, how knowledge is produced and influenced by the political environment in different national and international contexts. It also gives in insight in the reactions of Swedish ethnologists and folklorists to Nazi Germanys and GDRs political control of scholarship, and the interest shown by Nazi German and GDR scholars and politicians in cooperation with Swedish scholars.

Another earlier research has been on Swedish-German musical relations during the Nazi period in Germany and the function of the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg (1887–1974) in this context. My dissertation, Music and Politics in the Shadow of Nazism: Kurt Atterberg and Swedish-German Musical Relations (Musik och politik i skuggan av nazismen. Kurt Atterberg och de svensk-tyska musikrelationerna, Lund 2007), shows how both countries stimulated each other in Swedish-German musical relations, how music was used as a political tool and how it was used in constructions of ethnic and national identities.

I have more than 20 years of teaching experience and I have been teaching children, teenagers and adults on all levels, from primary school to university level. On university level, I am teaching mostly in European Ethnology, but also in History, History of ideas, German and in Pedagogics. At Södertörn University, I am mostly teaching in European Ethnology, in the European Program and in the Teacher Education Program. I am also coordinator for European Ethnology and for the European Program (Europaprogrammet).

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