Toponymic project of our colleague got a considerable funding

The project titled “Swedifying the other: place-name policymaking in the large-scale cadastral maps of the Swedish Empire (1630–1700)” has received a grant from the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ). The latter is a Swedish independent foundation with the goal of promoting and supporting research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The project with a funding volume of up to SEK 3,036,000 (about 300,000 EUR) was developed by Dr. Alexandra Petrulevich, member of the ICOS’ Board of Directors and Researcher at the Uppsala University.


Why did the multilingual Swedish Empire mandate the Swedifying of non-Scandinavian place names? More importantly, why were place names from Sámi-, Finnish- and German-speaking areas treated differently in spite of this ruling? The project’s aim is to uncover the genesis of Swedish policies regarding non-Scandinavian place names by analysing the Land Survey’s directives of the 1600s (issued in connection with large-scale cadastral mapping of the Swedish Empire), cadastral maps, and place names. Through three sub-studies and a synthesis, this three-year project will investigate name policymaking across the Empire as a social process in its contextual setting and explain the reasons behind the choice of different strategies to process non-Scandinavian place names in Norrbotten in Sweden, Turku and Pori in Finland, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. Most of the scholarly work on name policies in Sweden has been concerned with the present-day implementation of existing regulations. This project intervenes into the current state of research by addressing the origins of formalised place-name policies, their agenda, design, implementations, and far-reaching implications. By using material-semiotic, linguistic and digital spatial tools, the project significantly advances the development of theory and method in the field of name studies. Furthermore, the project will contribute to the development of more informed present-day policies on minority place names in Sweden.

The main output of the project includes four peer-reviewed OA articles to be published in high ranked journals as well as a database of place name material from a sample of cadastral maps published in a suitable data repository (e.g. DiVA). Furthermore, two conference presentations will be given for international socio-onomastic and linguistic research communities. The general public will be engaged with and kept informed through the project’s website, Twitter account, and two popular lectures in Helsinki and Umeå in connection with the project’s workshops.

The following scholars have agreed constitute the project’s advisory board:

  • Prof. Dr. Terhi Ainiala, University of Helsinki; the world’s leading expert on socio-onomastics and names in multilingual environments.
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Kroll, University of Rostock; expert on historical geography, GIS and electronic editions of historical map material.
  • Dr. Daniel Andersson, Umeå University; expert on linguistic landscapes and place names in multilingual environments.
  • Dr Elin Pihl and Björn Lundqvist, Institute of Languages and Folklore, Uppsala; experts on minority place names responsible for implementation of present-day name policies in Sweden.