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Lecture: 'Swedishness after the Refugee “Crisis”'

Event Details

March 22, 2017
4:00 pm

Herter Hall

Room: 301

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Free admission
Sherrill Harbison

Markus Huss, from Södertörn University in Stockholm and Fulbright-Hildeman Fellow in Scandinavian Studies, will give a public lecture on the Swedish self-image in light of recent developments, especially the refugee situation after 2015.

Sweden has traditionally regarded itself as a socially progressive country with liberal immigration laws, guided by a strong anti-racist pathos. Recently, this self-image has been tested by the entry of the xenophobic political party, the Sweden Democrats, into parliament in 2010. The biggest blow to it, however, took place in the fall of 2015 with the introduction of border controls in order to handle the large number of asylum seekers (in total 160 000 in 2015) – only weeks after the Swedish prime minister had declared: “My Europe doesn’t build walls.” This dynamic received a new twist when the American President Donald Trump referred to Sweden as one of the countries most threatened by immigration.

Have these developments changed the Swedish national self-image? How does the conventional Swedish self-image compare to the reality experienced by newcomers and Swedes with immigrant family backgrounds? In what ways do minorities in Sweden try to create inclusive forms of Swedishness?  This lecture will explore the construction of Swedishness in terms of tolerance and antiracism in the 20th century, as well as give examples from public and cultural discourse on Swedishness and national identity today.

The talk is sponsored by the Fulbright Foundation, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and the Program in German and Scandinavian Studies.