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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2023

One Does Not Simply Walk Out of Sweden: Early Modern Regulations and Conceptualizations of Migration

Andersson, Martin


The words used in modern Swedish to describe migration (e.g., utvandringemigration) are all rather recent newcomers into the language, most being in common use only since the late nineteenth century. This chapter addresses the question of how migration was conceptualized in Early Modern Sweden, before the introduction of the modern concepts. It is based on two types of sources. The first one is emigration prohibitions, issued by Swedish kings during the period 1551–1620. The second is a database of migration data based on taxation records, in which people leaving Sweden during the years 1613–1618 were listed. The study finds that in these sources, a wide vocabulary of phrases was used in order to describe what people did when they left the country, including “leaping out of the realm”, and “going out to” other lands. These phrases, as well as the emigration prohibitions, show that the world was thought of as divided into two separate regions; Sweden and the outside rest. The words in use also show that emigration was seen as and conceptualized as different to migration within the borders of the realm. Finally, different concepts were used in order to discriminate between various groups of migrants, on the basis of social class, ethnicity, and to some extent also gender. This language use was especially prevalent in the emigration prohibitions, which most often targeted only Finns and servants. The study thus supports the assumption of migration historians that these regulations concerned “emigration”, which existed as a concept already in the middle of the sixteenth century, even in the absence of the modern terminology.


Migration concepts; Migration regulations; Early Modern Sweden; Emigration

Published in

Palgrave Studies in Migration History
2023, pages: 169–184
Title: Managing Mobility in Early Modern Europe and its Empires : Invited, Banished, Tolerated
ISBN: 978-3-031-41891-4, eISBN: 978-3-031-41889-1
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-41889-1_8

    UKÄ Subject classification

    International Migration and Ethnic Relations

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