They Moved To The City And Found Someone To Marry

My personal genealogy has never interested me much, knowing as I do that the number of ancestors multiplies by a factor of two with each generation. Thus in AD 1800 someone born in 1975 had about 2^8=256 ancestors of child-bearing age (or slightly fewer if someone has been productive in more than one slot on the diagram). Finding out that a historical figure contributed 1/256 to my genetics and social heritage would not make them all that much more interesting to me.

I draw the line at three generations back, with people that are still remembered. In my case they illustrate an interesting and well-known trend in people's mobility in Sweden over the past century.

  • Generation 1. Eight people born c. 1890 in counties Kalmar (two people who do not join up), Bohus (two people who do not join up), Örebro, Malmöhus, Södermanland and Stockholm.
  • Generation 2. Four people born c. 1915 in counties Stockholm (3) and adjacent Södermanland.
  • Generation 3. Two people born in c. 1943 in Stockholm county.
  • Generation 4. Myself born 1972 in Stockholm county.

Look how they all move to Stockholm in 1910 and get married to someone from a county they're unlikely to ever have visited before! This is why Stockholm people have no roots. The only genuine ethnic tradition that survives in my family is an infrequent goose feast on Saint Martin's Day, passed down from the guy from Malmöhus in generation 1. He was a cabinet maker and we've got one of his pieces of work in the dining room.

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This is why Stockholm people have no roots.

I suspect this is true for major cities throughout the world. It's definitely true of Americans: all of my grandparents were born in the US, but 7 of the 8 from the previous generation were immigrants (five from Denmark and two from Sweden). We've traced the lineage of the eighth one back to 17th century Connecticut, where the guy's descendants lived for another couple of centuries, but then my great-grandmother moved to Nebraska, and to my knowledge her daughter (my grandmother) never visited Connecticut.

My parents met, as many Americans do, at university. They came from different states. Some cousins on my mother's side still live in the state where she grew up, but any relatives in my father's home state are more distant than that.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 07 Oct 2013 #permalink

I had to move to a different country. Well, I didn't *have* to, but...

My parents left Australia precisely twice in their lives - once to attend my wedding, the second time to attend my daughter's first birthday party.

None of my grandparents ever left Australia.

By John Massey (not verified) on 07 Oct 2013 #permalink

I have observed the opposite effect: my mom and her family moved from Sandefjord in 1953 when she was 9, eventually ending up in Ballard, a Scandinavian neighborhood in Seattle. As a kid we visited regularly with five or six other families my mom knew as a child in Norway who had also emigrated at different times and had also settled in Ballard. We used to joke that Ballard was a Norwegian ghetto. Most of these families were part of the same religious group to which my grandparents belonged, a group that viewed itself as surrounded by a hostile, secular world -- no doubt that played a part.

My cousins in Norway think it's funny that we still eat lutefisk at Christmas, generations since that barbaric practice was abandoned in Norway.

I'm not sure to what extent the Swedish migrants belonged to religious minorities. At the time, Sweden was a pretty good place for religious dissenters. Mainly the migrants seem to have been state church members looking to improve their financial prospects.

A lot of Swedes still have lutefisk for Christmas, but the only member of my family who has any real enthusiasm for it is my Chinese wife.

There is definitely a tendency for people of a religious or ethnic minority who migrate far from home to cluster together, especially if it's a persecuted religious or ethnic minority. There is an example within 20 km of me: a cluster of Indonesian, mostly Christian (Indonesia is a majority Muslim country, so these people qualify as a persecuted religious minority) immigrants concentrated in a small (population less than 20,000) municipality. Many other examples exist in the US, in cities both big (the Hmong of Minneapolis/St. Paul) and small (the Somali community in Lewiston, ME).

That's the opposite to a bunch of people moving to a big city, or even another country, for better economic prospects. If there is little or nothing to distinguish you from people from some other part of the country, there is no reason to avoid interactions with those other people.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 08 Oct 2013 #permalink

High rates of violent crime are documented among the Hmong. The same is true of the Somalis. They cluster for survival, self-protection, to keep their own culture intact, because they are subjected to ethnic discrimination in more insidious forms by the majority populations, and also generally because at least initially they can afford property to live in only in the poorer parts of town, but actually they are at much higher risk of violent crime perpetrated on them by people in their own groups than by the majority population, and from violent crime perpetrated by them on the majority of the population.

Italians, Greeks, Chinese, Serbs and Croats clustered in Australia principally to maintain culture, but it has been futile - the kids go to school, form friendships and attachments, marry Australian husbands and wives, and the cultural continuity breaks down in the second or third generation. The Somalis will find this more difficult because they will meet stronger discrimination against them from the ethnic majority whites.

By John Massey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2013 #permalink

John, the one who moved from Sweden to Silesia might have been the first to recognise pechblände has more potential than bronze, weapon-wise.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 08 Oct 2013 #permalink

(OT) "Vast ancient tomb raised from the dead by restoration"…
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Not quite Ctulhu: "Giant Squid Washes Ashore In Cantabria, Spain"…
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European hunter-gatherers and immigrant farmers lived side-by-side for more than 2,000 years…
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Ancient DNA unravels Europe's genetic diversity
"None of the dynamic changes we observed could have been inferred from modern-day genetic data alone, highlighting the potential power of combining ancient DNA studies with archaeology to reconstruct human evolutionary history."

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 11 Oct 2013 #permalink

OT/ Skeptic alert! "Beware of Secret Demons...attached to the secondhand clothes you buy"… Presumably there are textile exsorcists around, charging at a premium to make your household items safe.
(I added this to the thread because it has a rather...medieval ring to it. Maybe if we dig deep enough we will find textile- exsorcist artefacts all over the place)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 12 Oct 2013 #permalink

Ach no - here's proof that not only did female-type people reach the farthest ends of Europe, they even let them play the fiddle.

Even the demon-infested second hand cardigans go quiet when the Outer Hebrideans start to sing:

By John Massey (not verified) on 12 Oct 2013 #permalink