Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The excerpts from Professor Allan Pred's obituary are presented in order to illustrate the benefits of having multiple roots, of being able, apparently, to merge what some see as separate identities into a single more powerful one (See On Identity, Amin Maalouuf on this subject). With those roots and a powerful intellect, Professor Pred was able to see what even intellectual ethnic Swedes seemed to have so much trouble seeing, let alone acknowledging. I also present these excerpts because my very interest in the subject he treats so deeply has its roots in a somewhat similar history. Thanks to a Swedish wife and a bilingual daughter, I, like Pred, was able to move to Sweden upon retirement from the University of Rochester and thus to experience a single Swedish city, Linköping, full time. The effect on me was identical with the effect on Pred. My thoughts follow his, but they find the expression for which I was looking in his profound contributions in print.

Allan Pred was born in the Bronx in 1936. His father was a high school French language teacher, his mother a housewife and musician. Both of his grandparents had been Jewish immigrants from Poland. A child of the late Depression, he rarely looked back to New York after his departure for Antioch College in 1953. His new horizons were out in the Midwest and later across the Atlantic to Europe – what became a life-long love affair with Sweden. He first visited the country while a graduate student at Chicago, drawn, in part, by the theoretical and scientific innovations of Swedish geographers … When he met his wife of 44 years, Hjördis, in San Francisco in 1962 the die was cast. They lived between Berkeley and Sweden on a yearly basis, raising bi-lingual children. In the 1980s, they bought a summer home in Sörmland, Sweden…

Inevitably he turned to contemporary Swedish life and to what he took to be the deafening silence surrounding the question of race and racism. In two powerful and controversial books – his stunning excoriation of cultural racism, memorably entitled Even in Sweden: Racisms, Racialized Spaces, and the Popular Geographical Imagination (2000) and The Past is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions and Enduring Racial Stereotypes (2004) – Pred courageously exposed a deep vein of pain and shame…

Excerpted from

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