“Exotic Sweden”: A Nordic Quest in the Winter of 2010
AbstractIn this paper, I reflect on an academic visit as a post-doctoral researcher in Sweden. I challenge the perceptions of the “exotic” and experiment with the ways of exoticizing a Nordic country by a female “explorer” who comes from a Mediterranean island. Thus, the impressions of Sweden through the eyes of a Turkish woman are narrated in a fragmented text which reads in the form of a parody of adventure, in which the exotic locale is Sweden. As a literary journey, it includes accounts first in diary and then in epistolary forms. The letter in particular recalls Lady Mary Montagu, the 18th century British female traveler, yet in a different set of cultural and temporal contexts. One dialogue concerning “a local and the explorer” is also part of the text, demonstrating the element of surprise in the exotic. The initial “magic” of the automated life of the everyday Sweden is immediately deflated by the narrator and expressed in terms of frustration, yet remains in the borders of the exotic, a relatively defined concept. The ironies and the challenges of capturing the exotic are weaved through the whole text beginning with the initial quotation regarding a stereotype on the Swedes and the visitors’ expectation of finding tranquility in Nature. The term “exotic Sweden” is intentionally left to the reader to respond after discussions of selected theories on exotic and exoticization.
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