Black and Swedish: Racialization and the Cultural Politics of Belonging in
Abstract: Black and Swedish: Racialization and the Cultural Politics of Belonging in StockholmMarch 2000Lena S. Sawyer, B.A., MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITYM.A., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZPH.D., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZDirected by: Professor Carolyn Martin ShawThis dissertation looks at how racial discourses are used in contemporary Swedes'practices of belonging, their sense of their incorporation into Swedish society. I analyze verbal accounts and narratives of people "of African ancestry" living in Stockholm and those positioned in the normative and racially-unmarked category, "Swede." I study concepts of blackness and the uses to which black bodies are put in Swedish debates. Hegemonic ideas about race, nation, and belonging are investigated through attention to how dichotomous categorizations of "black" and "white" and "Swede" and "African" are produced, contested, undermined, and reproduced by individuals of various classes and generations living in Sweden.Research for this dissertation was based on participant observation and interviews with people in Stockholm, Sweden from March 1995 to May 1996. The theoretical approach used relied on an understanding of individuals as active agents in shaping the discourses and narratives through which they give meanings to their lives while, at the same time, having their lives shaped by popular and governmental discourses and practices. Governmental classificatory schemas, especially those which address immigrants and citizens, are potent sites where individuals and groups come to be thought of as and treated as particular kinds of citizens and subjects. I found that one area where these debates are most salient is in people's "re-memberings" of the national past. This is wherethe national past. This is where people strategically invoke specific narratives of time and space (chronotopes) about race to bridge or expand the ideological distance between Sweden and acknowledged spaces of race, such as the United States, South Africa, and World War II Germany. Swedes of African ancestry differently negotiate, and chronotopically "route" calls for community based on the terms "black" (svart) and "African" (Afrikan), invoking ties to Africa, to diasporic black culture (heavily tinged with Black American icons and practices), and to Swedish language and traditions. African dance classes are also a space where hegemonic notions of belonging are negotiated and sometimes inverted. lassifications obscure race as a category, in everyday practices, race is recognized, used, and fiercely debated as a criteria of belonging in Swedish society.
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