9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Racism and Antisemitism in Europe Building II, C5.05

Racism and the Representation of "the racist" in Sweden

There is a widespread consensus in Sweden that racism in all its forms is wrong and should be fought. Even though xenophobic political parties are gaining momentum most Swedes still would consider their country more tolerant than others. A growing body of research shows, however, that experiences of everyday racism are common among racialized minorities, ranging from experiences of open racist name calling and harassment in public places to more subtle racist assumptions from colleagues, teachers and friends. This kind of experiences do not seem to have become less over time. This paper argues, drawing on Postcolonial and Critical Race Theory, that racism in many ways is mystified and that this limits the possibilities of resisting racism. The paper looks specifically at the construction of ?the Racist?, a monstrous individual driven by overwhelming hatred towards immigrants, as a way of giving absolution to the average Swede from the responsibility of reproducing racism. In discussing narratives of young adults of African descent it is shown how the construction of ?the Racist? is used as a way of dismissing my informants? experiences of everyday racism as a result of hypersensitivity or misunderstandings, and by that token contributing to the mystification and normalization of everyday racism.