In 1969, leading members of the Black Panther Party (BPP) traveled through Scandinavia. BPP Solidarity Committees were set up in Copenhagen and Stockholm, and activities in support of the BPP took place in the Scandinavian capitals and at universities. The interest in the BPP was high in Scandinavia around 1970, producing both translations of key texts from that movement, and journalistic accounts. Leading cultural institutions – e.g. Moderna museet and the Stockholm City Museum – invited delegations from the BPP. The Scandinavian countries also functioned as refuges for Panthers that needed to go into exile. For example, African American war deserters started a local chapter of the BPP in Malmö.
This project uses oral history and archival studies to find out what the BPP did in Scandinavia, and what was done in solidarity with the BPP. Itself influenced by anti-colonial struggles worldwide, the BPP became an actor on the global arena. Finding out why the BPP already before that oriented themselves towards the Scandinavian countries, and how these contacts shaped the BPP and its traveling members, could reveal as much about that movement’s strategic reasoning and ideological development as it could about the transnational dimension of the Scandinavian 1968.
The available scholarship on 1968 in Scandinavia downplays the agency of actors in other parts of the world that might have been interested in contacts within Scandinavia for their own reasons, and also might have put the Scandinavian actors in motion in the first place. That the Scandinavian countries had a function within the global network of the BPP suggests that the Scandinavian 1968 could be re-told in a way that stresses the fluxes of people, ideas, and repertoires of contestation.
Within these fluxes, African American experiences of being exposed to and taking action against racism had to be communicated, explained and possibly translated in order to make sense across social differences and national borders. By analyzing these communications, this project can contribute with new insights into the problem of how to understand racism and ‘race’ as historiographical categories. The project is thus influenced by previous scholarhsip which show that the BPP’s intellectual articulations of the intersections of class and race are important to study in order to better understand the simultaneous rise of superdiversity and resurgence of racism in contemporary society.