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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Edited By 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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10. From Racial to Racist State? The Sweden Democrats Reimagining the Nation (Diana Mulinari / Anders Neergaard)


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Diana Mulinari & Anders Neergaard

10. From Racial to Racist State? The Sweden Democrats Reimagining the Nation1

Abstract: Controversies over citizenship and belonging have lately become pivotal to Swedish politics. The growing strength of the extreme right party, the Sweden Democrats’ reimagination of Sweden, indicates, the authors argue, Sweden’s shift from being a ‘racial’ to a ‘racist’ state. Analysing women and migrants within the party, the chapter highlights the paradoxical politics of a political programme that is anti-feminist and racist, but seek support from (some) women and (some) migrants.


Controversies over citizenship, national identities and belonging have been central to Swedish public discourse since the 1990s, and have lately become the very bases of Swedish politics. In the early 1990s, New Democracy, a short-lived parliamentary party, attempted to combine populism and racism at a time when Neo-Nazi-inspired social movements were burgeoning in the streets. These movements were followed by the successful establishment of the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna), a racist party that has played a major role in Swedish national parliamentary politics since 2010. The growing role of the Sweden Democrats and the social movement that they may be seen as a representative of was manifested by increasing racist violence against those perceived as non-Swedish, as well as systematic claims that migrants constitute a threat to Sweden; claims that up to a certain extent have been included in most mainstream political parties2. However, the establishment of these parties encountered...

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