Saturday, 19 April 2014

M is for Mångkulturell (Multicultural); N is for Nässjö

[Two letters in one, here described in reverse order for historical reasons!]

In 1914 Nässjö was recognised as a Swedish stad (the Swedish word stad can mean town or city) and granted the accompanying privileges and charter. Nässjö’s Town Hall was formally opened in the same year. One hundred years on, in 2014, Nässjö is celebrating its centenary.

At that time Nässjö belonged to a new urban generation known as a ‘stationsamhället’ – a bridge between the old and the new, a merging of town and country. Its identity as a town was therefore not entirely clear.  

Nässjö is a railway town – an important railway junction for trains heading north, south, east and west. When the railway was first established, in the mid-1800s, Nässjö’s inhabitants numbered 43. Fifty years on, when the town received its charter, the population had grown to 5,949. With the railway as its mainstay and the explosion of various industries (cigarette factory, clothing mill, furniture factory) the town blossomed.

Today, Nässjö has a population of around 17,000, and in the municipality as a whole (including the surrounding communities) the population numbers 30,000.

The present population is mångkulturell – multicultural. The town works towards integration – the integration of native Swedes and new Swedes. The concept ‘new Swedes’ has been adopted in Sweden as a whole to include ‘immigrants’ from various corners of the world. Just as in 1914, the town is a bridge between the old and the new, this time in a merging of cultures. Similar to 1914, its identity is unclear and still emerging.

Multicultural Nässjö is a town in formation. Following its progress will be fascinating.

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