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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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1. Reimagineering the Nation: Crisis and Social Transformation in 21st Century Sweden. An Introduction (Carl-Ulrik Schierup / Aleksandra Ålund / Anders Neergaard)


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Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Aleksandra Ålund & Anders Neergaard

1. Reimagineering the Nation: Crisis and Social Transformation in 21st Century Sweden. An Introduction

Abstract: While for long being known as an international role model of tolerant multiculturalism and ethno-national diversity, Sweden is presently characterised by restrictive refuge policies, growing right wing populism but also resistance among civil society actors spearheaded by a variety of social justice movements. This first chapter introduces and contextualises the following 13 chapters of the book. They discuss Sweden’s current transformation from varying, but complementary, perspectives. Their authors set focus on the present crossroad in the country’s development, in terms of labour, citizenship racism and social exclusion, gender and immigration policy.

The year 2011 will pass into world history as one promising revolutionary change; by many imagined as the dawn of a brighter post-neoliberal future. But numerous manifestations of the hoped-for democratic spring mutated without notice into a reactionary necropolitical fall. In the ‘indispensable nation’ the Occupy Wall Street Movement, confronting the ‘One Percent’, was beaten down by the nation’s increasingly militarised police force, giving way to a racist neo-conservative tsunami. A much hailed ‘Arab Spring’ was co-opted or it was smothered in its infancy through ‘humanitarian intervention’ and covert imperial war games for regime change in dispensable nations across North Africa and the Middle East. Ethno-national fratricide continued to be staged and stepped up by the self-described ‘masters of the universe’1; the so-called ‘international community’ of the West.2...

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