A stranger in my homeland. The politics of belonging among young people with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden
Summary, in English
The young people referred to different sites in which they experienced ethnic discrimination and stigmatization. These experiences involved the labor market, mass media, housing segregation, legal system and school system. The interviewees also referred to the roles of ‘ordinary’ Swedes in obstructing their participation in the Swedish society through exclusionary discourses relating to Swedish identity. The interviewees’ life situation in Sweden, sense of ethnic discrimination as well as disputes over identity making with other young people with Middle-Eastern background are among the most important reasons for fostering strong Kurdish nationalist sentiments, issues that are related to the ways they can exercise their citizenship rights in Sweden and how they deal with exclusionary practices in their everyday life. The study shows that the interviewees respond to and resist ethnic discrimination in a variety of ways including interpersonal debates and discussions, changing their names to Swedish names, strengthening differences between the self and the other, violence, silence and deliberately ignoring racism. They also challenged and spoke out against the gendered racism that they were subjected to in their daily lives due to the paternalist discourse of ”honor-killing”.
The research participants had been denied an equal place within the boundary of Swedishness partly due to a racist postcolonial discourse that valued whiteness highly. Paradoxically, some interviewees reproduced the same discourse through choosing to use it against black people, Africans, newly-arrived Kurdish immigrants (”imports”), ”Gypsies” and Islam in order to claim a modern Kurdish identity as near to whiteness as possible. This indicates the multiple dimensions of racism. Those who are subjected to racism and ethnic discrimination can be discriminatory and reproduce the racist discourse. Despite unequal power relations, both dominant and minoritized subjects are all marked by the postcolonial condition in structuring subjectivities, belonging and identification.
Mid Sweden University
- Other Social Sciences
- Masoud Kamali
10 September 2010
Mid Sweden University
- Paulina de los Reyes (Professor)