The Enlightenment Travels North : The ideology and practice in parish descriptions in early modern Norrland
Abstract: This thesis is a study of factory owner Abraham Abrahamson Hülphers’s collections of parish description about the parishes in Norrland, more specifically those about Medelpad and Ångermanland. The thesis seeks to explain how Hülphers’s collections were created in practice while also presenting the descriptions content and analysing the ideology it reproduced. It does so by analysing Hülphers’s published descriptions, his travel journal and some of his correspondence. The thesis uses Mary Louise Pratts ideas about the imperial gaze as a theoretical framework to understand the work of Hülphers and the relation between the enlightened middle class and the peasantry which they described. The thesis investigates the idea of the parish descriptions understood as Hülphers travel journal reworked, arguing that Hülphers journey through Norrland was important for social reasons, rather than information gathering, and presenting the collections as new texts, not transformed versions of the journal. Furthermore the thesis discusses who helped Hülphers create the descriptions and the impact these men, from the same enlightened middle class as Hülphers himself, had on the text. The thesis also handles the economic ideology of the enlightenment as mirrored and reproduced by the descriptions. Here the focus lies on the priorities of the parishes different lines of work and the boundless optimism of enlightenment man – as nature could be conquered completely by man’s reason. Finally the thesis discusses the way Hülphers described the local culture; what he considered to be virtues and vices in the peasant population in terms of habits, language and dress, also showing the great value he considered the local dignitaries to have and discussing his disdain towards the superstitions of old as these could lead a community towards chaos.
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