Curt Persson
Curt Persson, researcher in history at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Melina Granberg View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Preliminary study reveals abuse on Tornedalians

Published: 4 May 2018

The state's assault on Tornedalians is an unexplored part of Sweden's history. Now has Curt Persson, researcher of History at Luleå University of Technology, conducted a preliminary study of the racial biology measurements that took place during the 1800s.

– In the field studies were a number of measures written down in field maps. In addition to the skull, were other body parts and body angles also measured. Skin, hair and eye colour were noted as well as body hair on the head and genitals, says Curt Persson.

Curt Persson's preliminary study consists of interviews with Tornedalians and a minor case study. In the case study has Curt Persson examined documents from the State Institute for Racial Biological to find out in what extent Tornedalians were included in the racial biology studies, how the local field studies was carried out and how the Tornedalians were described in the institute's publications.

– The research shows that the Tornedalians, like other national minorities, are presented as a threat to the Nordic race. In addition, there are significantly more Tornedalians in the institute's archive material than previously known. One of the most remarkable results is that skull measurements was carried out on schoolchildren as late as 1951, says Curt Persson.

The testimonies from the interviews are moving and paint a story about people who were seen as immigrants in their own country.

– The children was for example forbidden to speak their first language, Meänkieli, because it was considered a threat to the Swedish nation, and was physically punished if they did.  


Curt Persson

Curt Persson, Associate Senior Lecturer

Organisation: History, Social Sciences, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences