I can't believe how intellectual dishonest people are in order to try to defend their ideology.
Morality for action can not be derived out of distorted facts. If you want to behave in a truly ethical way you can not cling to false notions because you think those lies are good.
People want to do and be good but if they act on the basis of lies and ideology it will turn into shit for everybody involved. Upholding those kind of lies is highly amoral and you are not doing anyone a favor by trying to defend them.
But whatever, keep posting bullshit in order to give the impression that you had any arguments besides 'i have been told that i am a good guy when i say stuff like this. It is disgusting and will lead to a lot of horrific events.
But wow i am 'racist' for telling the truth, yes i love to commit heresy against your shit ideology that kills my loved ones.
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Also of course due to external circumstances which foster a culture where being upstanding is not rewarded or being criminal is viewed as the most beneficial way to use what god gave you.
The thing is, most of this stuff is inherent, and you don't do anybody a favor when you try to ignore it until it gets better, because it will never get better fast enough for this to work out.
We would have to find a way as society to interact and act on these truths and to integrate this into our consciousness while still treating each-other with respect and compassion.
I'm not sure if we will ever be able to tackle this. But i think we will have to make a start by acknowledging simple truths and challenging ourselves to find new ways to deal with them, because how it goes right now, it will never work out.
Look, I'm not denigrating the important emotion you feel about the people you have personally cared about who were killed or raped. (though you are trying to argue that anyone who disagrees with you must be doing so based on peer pressure and not thinking, even though I did have two beautiful meta-analyses shared above that thoroughly debunk the racist IQ hypothesis).
I'm also not saying that young males are not responsible for most violent crime--because across cultures, they are. It's not inherently male. Boys are not demon spawn. Testosterone is used in nature in the female body. And testosterone, though incorrectly suspected for years as some Violence Juice has recently been debunked as an aggression potion. It makes you interested in social dynamics. But the violence? We raise boy chidren that way. Study after study notes it, from the way we talk about like equal weight babies in basinets, to the toys we buy them, to the depictions of boy actions in the majority of our media, to the over-representation in the military and police (after women were excluded for a century). We, alternatively, raise young women to master their own urges to violent action (we give them other tools like dialogue or pacifying people or ....urging men to violence). We reward and praise young men for violence. We set them up to endanger themselves and others when we do. And you're right that bringing young men into a country (young men of any race) can mean crime increases (when we keep raising them to 'protect by fighting'). And the reason the data you were looking at seems so convincing that the 'Browns and Blacks are more aggressive/demon spawn' is that MORE young males were seeking and getting refugee status which makes sense because if they stay in their origin countries they will be expected to participate in wars, etc., and so the refugees who are brown/black and being accepted into German society while largely nonviolent, are composed of an UNUSUALLY HIGH number of young males. 3 times as many of that young male demographic coming in as would otherwise on average come in if refugees of all ages and sexes came in in normal proportions. And we know young males on average commit way more violent crime. So there is likely to be a small increase in crime. And...while it's true with all these hundreds of thousands of people coming in legally after 2014 when there had been "6.1 million offences recorded by the police. By 2016, this had risen to 6.4 million - these figures include immigration violations which, inevitably, impact migrants." and
"Criminologists say the make-up of the new arrivals is an important factor.
In 2014, German men between the ages of 14 and 30 made up 9% of the population and were responsible for half of all the country's violent crimes.
When it comes to the new arrivals, men aged 16 to 30 made up 27% of all asylum-seekers who came in 2015.
"It is because of the demographics," claims Dr Dominic Kudlacek, from the Criminological Research Unit of Lower Saxony. "Whether they're asylum
seekers or EU migrants, they are younger than the average population and mostly male. Young men commit more crimes in every society."
But with all the sorrow and pain Germany experienced, the color isn't the issue. How can we tell? Well a very clear and quick refutal lies in the examination of this crime map (more crime in red) and THIS list of countries with unusually white populations. The whitest nations can have the highest crime. And...Ukraine and Canada (2 of the whitest in the world) have MUCH higher crime rates than Japan does, and there are almost no pasty ppl in Japan. France based on estimates is one of the whitest nations in the world and has crimes rates comparable with African nations, some of the most melanated.
SO YOU COULD BE ADVOCATING AGAINST RAPE AND MURDER AND STUDYING CAUSES in general which actually works, or...you could instead go after the Browns with no clear scientific support to do so besides wild leaps made irresponsibly over very basic and imprecise and non-nuanced science largely done on other species...and the ones done on people living in unequal by race human cities making it logically impossible to infer any inherent distinction. Your choice. But the heroic and protective work is the former, not the latter, and you're literally just re-enacting the pattern of young male aggression brainwashing if you choose the latter.
Last edited by nanashi; 05-31-2020 at 06:52 PM.
"Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is a pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence exists to support or justify racism (racial discrimination),
racial inferiority, or racial superiority. Historically, scientific racism received credence throughout the scientific community, but it is no longer considered scientific."
Further your are arguing for my point, science (east) Asians are a lot less violent than white people and have lighter skin and a higher IQ.
That white countries where more criminal than black countries is just plain false.
Asian countries are the least violent, followed by white countries and slav countries, here you have to take into account the minorities present. Listing USA as a white country, saying it is the most violent while the 13 percent black people in the US commit more than 50 percent of the violent crime is ether dishonest are a weak attempt at lying to yourself.
your last post about the pigmentation of Asians is also wrong. It is not supported or mentioned by any of my studies and while there are darker Asians who will be on average more aggressive and less intelligent than lighter Asians this does not refute but align with what i said.
I just don't get people like you, there is absolutely no reason for this overwhelming amount of mental gymnastics you display while the answer is pretty clear.
Blacks are on average a more criminal and aggressive while being less intelligent than whites and it is a bad idea to let them in your country, no kind of mental gymnastics will change this and every kind of real life evidence and credible scientific evidence does support these claims.
Just stop lying to yourself and stop lying to everyone else just because you have been told that being a lyer equals being a good person, it's the other way around.
This will be the future of Germany as well. Angela Merkel will long be forgotten but the results of her incompetence will be long lasting.
Germany has a bleak future. Same scenario throughout Europe
‘Working harder to be the same’: everyday racism among young men and women in Sweden
Pages 319-342 | Published online: 19 Aug 2006
Despite Sweden's international reputation for human rights and democratic values, racism within Swedish schools is a relatively new issue, emerging only with the increased ethnic diversity of Swedish schools in recent years. This paper is thus one of the first Swedish interview studies on the perceptions of young men and women in Sweden from both minority and majority ethnic backgrounds about their everyday experience of racism and prejudice. What, for instance makes them believe, as the study found, that they need to work much harder than other young people to become ‘full members’ of Swedish society? While many of the young people's experiences are similar to those in other countries, it can be seen that Sweden, despite its international human rights record, is not exempt from racism and xenophobia within its own national boundaries. Greater effort therefore needs to be expended, it is argued, on counteracting and challenging these tendencies, particularly in the school system.
As pointed out in a paper ‘Why here, why now’ (Hällgren & Weiner, 2003), Sweden has long been a multiethnic society despite the presumption in the 1960s of ‘one language, one race and no religion’ (Andrae‐Telin & Elgqvist‐Saltzman, 1987, p. 4). Swedish‐born minorities include Sami, Swedish Finns, Tornedalers, Roma and Jews (Regeringens Proposition, 1999, p. 143), each of which has made significant contributions to Swedish society and culture over the centuries. Currently (2004), of Sweden's nine million inhabitants, approximately 10% (over 900,000) were born abroad. Of these, 40% have lived in Sweden for 20 years or more. An additional 800,000 who were born in Sweden have at least one parent from abroad. Altogether this means that nearly two million people living in Sweden have a foreign background (Regeringens Proposition, 1997; Kulturdepartementet, 2000, p. 43). They can be divided into three main groups; from one of the other Nordic countries, from other parts of Europe, and from Asia, Africa and South America. The motives for immigration are many, but a rough estimation indicates that a third are refugees, a third moved for family reasons, and the rest are seeking work (Kulturdepartementet, 2000, p. 43).
When it comes to young people, the main country of origin for children born outside Sweden is former Yugoslavia and Bosnia‐Herzegovina, followed by Iraq and Iran (SCB, 2004a). Adopted children form another substantial group; 24,000 children were born outside Sweden (mainly in India, Colombia or South Korea), but have Swedish‐born, adoptive parents. The largest number of children (90,000) however has one or both parents from Finland (SCB, 2004a). Altogether, as mentioned earlier, a quarter of all children (485,000) in Sweden (excluding national minorities) is either born abroad or has one or both parents born outside Sweden (SCB, 2004a), and it has been estimated that over 150 different languages are represented among children in Swedish schools today (SCB, 2004b).
Nevertheless, Sweden is not necessarily a good host for minorities. Studies have shown that for a large number of young people living in Sweden today, their lives are fractured by experiences of racism and xenophobia. ‘Bulling, racism and violence is still a dark side of the Swedish educational system’ states the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket, 2001, p. 124). Almost half the respondents in a survey of 305 schools report this to be the case (Save the Children Sweden, 2002a) and a collection of essays, published by the same organization, illustrates the range of incidents involving racism, discrimination and injustice in Sweden (Save the Children Sweden, 2002b). Further, in a survey by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket, 2002), minority children spoke of offensive language from teachers, not being assessed fairly compared to other children, and having fewer opportunities to talk to adults in school. They also reported having fewer chances to defend themselves against racist attacks because of fear of repercussions. One fifth (20%) gave their ethnicity as a reason for this, compared with only 3% of students from so‐called Swedish backgrounds.
There is thus a growing concern about racism in Sweden in recent years (Hällgren & Weiner, 2003). At the same time, signs of disagreement have appeared regarding whether Sweden might be described as a racist country. Contradictory viewpoints are evident. For example, on the one hand, it is claimed that there is a growing trend of positive attitudes towards immigrants; and on the other, a significant number of Swedes (a third), if given the chance, would opt to vote for a xenophobic political party (Integrationsverket, 2002b). The same political schism is noted among young people in a survey carried out at the time of the National School Elections (a project initiated by Swedish National Agency for Education to enhance the understanding of democracy). In 2002, xenophobic parties ‘won’ the election in 4.5% schools (Skolverket, 2002).
The figures thus suggest that all may not be well for those in Sweden designated as non‐Swedes. Distressing stories lie behind the numbers and percentages. Where are these individual voices in the statistics? What happens when young people from a minority ethnicity try to characterize their experiences of living in Sweden? For the study, it was decided to use interviews as a means of finding the voices behind the statistics.
The first part of the paper offers a short review of research on perceptions of everyday racism, power relations, the ‘other’ in racist discourses, domains of conflict and denial of racism. It also briefly considers previous research in the Swedish context. The main section reports on findings and analyses from the interview study while the final section offers some reflections and conclusions.
Concepts of racism
Essed argues that ‘racism is racism, but not all racism is everyday racism’ (Essed, 1991, p. 3) Everyday racism, according to Essed, involves repetitive, recurrent and familiar practices, and therefore is a multi‐dimensional phenomenon. It is inherent in culture and the social order, and is seen as more than structure and ideology (Essed, 1991; Pred, 2000). Essed focuses on practices rather than the individual, and thus counters the view that racism is exclusively about ‘being a racist’. She argues that it should not be assumed that all ‘Whites are agents of racism and all Blacks are the victims’ (Essed, 1991 p. 43), but takes everyday life as a starting point, and uses a matrix of social relations as representative for the structure of the everyday world. Essed conceptualizes the everyday world as substructured in relation to race, ethnicity, class and gender. ‘Everyday racism’ is interpreted as racism integrated into daily situations (see Figure 1), and which connects structural forces of racism with routine situations. She also links ideological dimensions of racism to individual attitudes. As such, everyday racism becomes part of the expected, and unquestioned, and that which the dominant group conceives of as normal.
Figure 1 Everyday racism
Display full size
To understand the concept of everyday racism, it is important to consider the phenomena of power and dominance. Bhavnani (2001) points out that racism is not just a matter of bias and prejudice, but of power relations which create certain domains of conflicts (see also Essed, 1991; Pred, 2000). Three such domains are identified by Essed (1991): (1) norms and values, for instance in the presumption that dominant values are the correct values; (2) material and non‐material sources, e.g., difficulties with housing, non‐acknowledgement of qualifications, avoidance of social contact, only being regarded as Swedish when achieving outstanding (sporting) success; and (3) definitions of the social world, e.g., those who challenge racism accused of bias against Whites. The dominant group is likely to contest claim that racism is present and pervasive in everyday life, and will identify with perpetrators of racism rather than with minorities or people of colour. This often results in accusations of over‐sensitivity and exaggeration but also ‘that others probably didn't mean it that way’, as a part of a denial of responsibility (Essed, 1991, p. 7).
Denial of racism is present in many societies (Essed lives in the USA) and in education systems too. For example, where minorities are not particularly visible, this can be summed up in the statement ‘no problem here’ (Gaine, 1987). Not having a problem ‘here’, largely the consequence of proportionally few minorities in the local population, is also one of many (36) ‘conceptual dances’ of denial identified by Jones (Jones, 1999, pp. 137–142). Research in Sweden indicates a parallel picture (Lange & Hedlund, 1998). Recent government reports points out that denial of racism is a common strategy to avoid confronting and recognizing racism in the immediate vicinity (Integrationsverket, 2002a, 2003). Similarly, in a study of Swedish schools, while the teachers seemed unaware of the presence of racism and reported that racism was not a feature, students spoke of their experiences of school racism (Parszyk, 1999). Again, when Swedish schools received antiracist study materials from the National Co‐ordination Committee Against Racism (Inrikesdepartementet, 1998) in the late 1990s, evaluations revealed that though some schools seemed to benefit, others did not use the material all. Two arguments given for non‐use were that the school had no problem with racism and that it was irrelevant to the students because they were so ‘very Swedish’ (mycket svenska) (Norberg, 1999).
The lack of public information or research findings related to racism in Sweden, has led to a general lack of knowledge about the nature of racism, how it is characterized, or what motivates perpetrators (Integrationsverket, 2001). This is also the conclusion of a recent research overview of multicultural and antiracist issues connected to Swedish classrooms (Hällgren et al., 2004). Compared to other countries, debates about racism and its different forms, and in particular understandings of the nature of everyday racism, are relatively new in Sweden. Generally until the 1960s, racism was defined as an ideology. After the 1960s racism gained a wider meaning mainly because discrimination, racial violence and racist attitudes could not be separated from the ideology (Integrationsverket, 2003). According to Pred (2000) the concept of everyday racism only came into public discourse and ‘antiracist proclamation’ in 1997 (Pred, 2000, p. 83). One reason for the slow recognition of racism has been the tendency to define racism as connected to Nazism and anti‐Semitism in the 1930s and World‐War II period. As Lindström (2002) points out, racism tends to be seen in Sweden as not only located to another time but also to another place, for example, South Africa or US. In addition, racism in Sweden is associated with extremist groups such as neo‐Nazis or ‘confused, unemployed boys living in small rural communities’ (Sawyer, 2002, p. 17). This is understood by Sawyer as a discursive ‘strategy to protect the national story of Sweden and Swedes as moral, united (solidarisk) and antiracist’ (Sawyer, 2002, p. 17; also see 2000, 2001). Pred (2000) similarly notes Sweden's self image as the ‘champion of the elsewhere oppressed’, and also the difficulties Swedes have in accepting that they are capable of racism because of their self‐perception as ‘deeply committed to Social Democratic notions of solidarity and social justice’ (Pred, 2000, p. 83).
Concepts such as ‘everyday’, ‘front room’ and ‘wardrobe’ racism, have emerged as an indicator of the covert nature of Swedish racism (Integrationsverket, 2003). Consistent with the work of Essed (1991), thus, everyday racism in Sweden may be defined as reproduced in taken‐for‐granted, familiar and everyday routines. It emerges through language and behaviour in, for example, conversation, film, school materials, television, workplaces, etc, and is performed by ordinary as well as elite individuals and groups. The function of the words ‘everyday racism’ is to show relations of domination in everyday life, as a ‘multidimensional act’ (Integrationsverket, 2003).
Even if racism has been a reality for individuals over a long time, as has been mentioned, it is seen as a new issue within Swedish public and educational discourses. Racism became a national concern when changed immigration patterns during the 1980s resulted in heightened visibility of racist groups, and extremist right‐wing political parties (Lange et al., 1997; Kommittén Forum för Levande historia, 2001). One of the first systematic overviews of racism within Sweden, by Catomeris (2004), uncovers its history in relation to ‘the other or the outsider’ (främlingen) and questions Sweden's transformation from being a leading‐edge nation on racial biology to having ambitions of being the conscience of the world (Catomeris, 2004). For example, Sweden was, like many other countries, involved in the slave trading between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and had its own colony: St Barthélemy in the West Indies (Catomeris, 2004). Moreover Carl Von Linne, the Swedish taxonomist, was among the first to categorize different human races and attribute mental features based on appearance and skin colour (in his Systema Naturae, 1735). Further, Catomeris points out Sweden's hostile attitudes towards both immigrants and minorities, in particular Finns, Jews, Roma and Sami. The Sami, Sweden's indigenous, nomadic minorities, for example, suffered from centuries of oppression by the state; for example, grave‐robbing, skull measuring, conflicts over religion and rights of land possession and poor education for Sami children, were all sanctioned by the state to repress the Sami. Moreover, as intimated earlier, the first ever institute of racial biology was proposed and agreed upon by the Swedish Parliament in 1921 (it closed only in 1958) (Broberg, 1995). This generated internationally recognized racial biology research during the 1920s and 1930s which, according to Lööw (1990), influenced politics, legislation, schoolbooks and official letters long after the end of World War II.
Critical multiculturalism is another key concept of this paper, however, as pointed out by Gillborn (2004), its meaning is contested. May (1998) argues that over the years multiculturalism promised much but delivered little and had, what is more a negligible impact on the life of minority groups. He seeks instead to bring antiracist and multicultural theories together in the critical multicultural perspective which ‘… incorporates postmodern conceptions and analyses of culture and identity, while holding onto the possibility of an emancipatory politics’ (May, 1999, pp. 7–8). Critical multiculturalism is seen as both illuminating of structural racism, and of societal norms which are seen as mainly derived from the views of the majority, who, given their position of power, also have preferential right of interpretation. A critical multicultural perspective thus encourages a recognition of ethnic, cultural and other social identities as ‘differing in salience among individuals and across given historical and social contexts and [explores] how these are situated in a wider framework of power’ (May, 1999, p. 33). Difference it is seen as produced through history, culture, power and ideology, occurring between and among groups (McLaren, 1994). Acknowledging both the limits of identity and hybridity between cultures, critical multiculturalism (as does this paper) aims to avoid stereotyped conceptions of culture, ethnicity or identity. Rather, individual positions are recognized and supported with regard to individual rights to define identity and experience. It is also recognized that choices are not available to all individuals and groups and that there is a dilemma built in to the notion of holding on to a non‐essentialist conception of culture while at the same time acknowledge group‐based differences of power and status. As pointed out by Rattansi (1999), ethnicity, ‘race’ and racism are all terms permanently ‘in‐between, caught in the impossibility of fixation and essentialization' (Rattansi, 1999, pp. 79–80).
The ‘other’ is also concept used in this paper. As argued by Griffiths (1999) anyone who is separate from one's self can in general terms be seen as the ‘other’ and becomes part of the process of defining what is ‘normal’ when locating one's own place in the world. Thus, the relationship between self and other is part of creating self‐awareness and ideas of identity (Griffiths, 1999). Difference from the ‘other’ can further be characterized by biological, cultural, religious, linguistic or territorial based boundaries, etc, for example, when defining minorities and immigrants as not being ‘us’, used as basis for legitimizing exclusion and/or subordination and/or exploitation of dominated ethnic groups; as such the dialectic process between ‘self and other’ becomes part of a racist discourse (Van Dijk, 2004; Yuval‐Davis, 1999). Two major forms of racist discourse involving the different ‘other’, are identified by Van Dijk (2004): one as being about, and one as being directed at, the ethnically different ‘other’. The first form (about the ‘other’) is usually acted out in groups, between members of the dominant group, in a negative portrayal of ‘them’, often in combination with a positive representation of ‘ourselves’. The second form of the racist discourse is directed at the ‘other’, expressed by members of the dominant group in, for example, the use of derogatory slurs and insults in verbal interactions with dominated group members. However, since such verbal expressions generally are seen as ‘politically incorrect’, they tend to be subtle or indirect. But even if subtle or indirect, this constitutes a threat to ‘well‐being and quality of life’ of those labeled as the ‘other’ in the racist discourse (Van Dijk, 2004, p. 352).
Eurokid and Swedkid
The interview study was undertaken as part of Swedkid, the Swedish part of the Eurokid project. Eurokid (2000–2003) was a European Union‐funded project involving the research, design, implementation and evaluation of web sites in Spain, Britain and Sweden as a means of challenging racist and anti‐democratic ideas among young people.
The main task of Swedkid, the Swedish language web site (www.swedkid.nu), was to present and discuss a range of experiences concerning racism, ethnicity and identity as reported through in‐depth interviews with a selection of young people in Sweden, drawn from various minority and majority ethnic groups. In so doing, the web site sought to illuminate, challenge and intervene in the processes of racialization in Sweden. Visitors to the web site are encouraged to interact with the characters and as a consequence, to reflect on their own ethnicity, identity and approaches to racism and antiracism. Thus the virtuality of the Net, a notably youth‐oriented medium, is used to problematize and ‘trouble’ young people's experiences and perspectives regarding what it is to be ‘truly’ or ‘newly’ Swedish.
Interviews with young people were the main information source for creating the core content of the Swedkid text, and were also used to identify patterns of experience among young people from minority (and majority)1 backgrounds in Sweden. There were two main reasons for using interviews as a data source: to make the content credible and convincing for the target group, in this case, young people from 12‐years upward; and to avoid basing the web environment on stereotypes.
Interviewing as a research method
It would have been possible to explore racism and xenophobia among young people in Sweden by extracting information already available from government surveys and statistics. However, in trying to get closer to what happens in schools and how racist incidents are experienced, more qualitative research approaches such as interviews were chosen as more appropriate.
The aim of the interviews was to understand individual experiences and the meaning given to those experiences, rather than to gain answers to specific questions (Seidman, 1998). The interview was thus used to explore opinions, attitudes, stories and life histories, and also as a means of illustrating and animating theoretical understandings (Kvale, 1997; Seidman, 1998). Rubin and Rubin (1995) usefully compare the interview to a window on time where the social world is experienced by one person in time, by means of one episode at a time.
Similar questions were asked of the intervewees (see Table 1) which attempted to uncover the following:
(Individual) thoughts and experiences of racism and xenophobia amongst young people from minority and majority ethnicities living in Sweden.
Attitudes faced because of being ‘non‐typically’ or ‘typically’ Swedish.
Impact of racist and other behaviour on interviewees' lives.
Table 1 Areas explored in the interviews
A main aim of the sampling process was to learn more about experiences of racism among young people from a wide number of minority ethnic backgrounds. In addition, it was to include experiences from different age groups. Yet another important aim was to ensure variety of ethnicity and nationality as much as possible, but not necessarily, representativeness of the full range of ethnicities and nationalities in Sweden. Indeed, this would be impossible since in 2003, there were approximately 70 different nationalities identified in Sweden (SCB, 2003). Rather, the aim was to identify shared experiences surrounding racism. Different methods of sampling were used. ‘Purposeful’ sampling involved inviting young people from specific ethnicities to participate in the study. Because of the low profile of national minorities (Sami, Swedish Finns, Tornedalers, Roma and Jews), it was seen as particularly important to include these ‘specific’ minorities.
Thus, individuals who were likely to have had experiences of racism were sought, for example, in the street, in shops, on the way to work, etc. ‘Snowball’ or ‘chain’ sampling was used to gain access to the target population (teenagers to young adults) through word of mouth recommendation. ‘Variation’ sampling widened the range of interviewees in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, etc. ‘Extreme’ or ‘deviant’ case sampling involved identifying potential interviews with specific experiences, e.g., being excluded from an activity on racist grounds (Seidman, 1998; Patton, 1990). Only one refusal was received of all the individuals approached to participate and several interviewees themselves contacted the project.
However such methods of selection/sampling raise two key questions:
By selecting interviewees on the basis of skin colour or ethnicity, might the research itself contribute to the process of social or educational exclusion?
What validity do the different methods of sampling contribute to the overall research quality of the study?
The interview study
The sample consisted of 30 people overall, largely in the age group 15–34 but with six older respondents (see Table 2). The core content in this paper, however, is built on the experiences reported by the age group 15‐ to 34‐years. Older interviewees tended to provide context and background. In the cases of the younger interviewees some parents were also present during the interview but their comments are not included here. Interviewees came from 19 different backgrounds or ethnicities, minority and majority, including Swedish‐born minorities (Sami, Swedish Finns, Tornedalers, Roma and Jews). Some of the interviewees had a ‘mixed’ or hybrid identity’: for example, Viekka's mother was from Tornedalen and her father, Iran—thus Viekka refers to herself as ‘Persi‐Finn’. Some interviewees came to Sweden as refugees or were adopted. Others had one ‘Swedish’ and one ‘foreign’ parent or two ‘Swedish’ parents (see Table 2).
Table 2 Countries of origin/ethnicities and age represented among the interviewees
The interviewees were asked to reflect on their family life, language, culture and religion, as well as on their experiences as young people growing up in Sweden. Additionally they were encouraged to reflect on the most common issues connected to their ethnicity.
Themes from the interviews
The young people interviewed had stories about being treated differently because of their none ‘typical’ Swedish background. Each was able to recount experiences of racism and xenophobia. The main themes raised are as follows:
Overt and hidden aspects of racism.
The need to be watchful at all times.
Needing to work hard to ‘adapt’ to society.
The importance of language and having the ‘right’ name.
Being let down by adults.
The complexity of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Needing to be strongly motivated to become successful.
Having to learn different strategies to survive.
Overt and hidden aspects of racism
The main impression given was that when young people belong to a Swedish‐born minority or if they look non‐European or have a ‘non‐Swedish’ name, or talk with a ‘non‐Swedish’ accent—they are likely to experience being treated as the ‘other’ (Motsieloa, 2003; Van Djik, 2004). Being ‘othered’ happens, for example, in shops, where shop assistants may give a suspicious look, or signal that there is an unwelcome person in the vicinity.
Being regarded as different and as the ‘other’ also involves hostile treatment in public places such as on the local bus. As Brahanne, a former refugee from Eritrea, describes it, bus drivers have refused to give him information about destinations, fellow passengers have avoided sitting next to him, and have stared and glared at him. Halima, a young woman ex‐refugee from Iran, was asked by a fellow passenger why she and her cousins ‘looked so Black’.
Looking different also affects the way these young people are treated by public bodies such as the police. Brahanne describes an incident where he was the only one in a group, who had to provide evidence to the police to show that his bike was not stolen. His friends were ‘Swedish‐looking’, Brahanne was not. Fredrik, a young man with Finish‐Roma background, retells an incident when his Black friend was picked up by the police at a bus stop on New Year's Eve with the remark—‘let's take in that neger’ (‘neger’ is a Swedish derogatory term meaning ‘a Black person’, similar not identical to the English offensive word ‘******’ (Sawyer, 2002)). Fredrik's friend was released later when no evidence of any criminal activity could be found. Likewise, Niklas, a young man with African‐Swedish background, describes how the police searched him at the bus station, because he looked to them like a ‘troublemaker’.
Being ‘non‐Swedish’ has also been problematic for these young people when seeking work. One interviewee talked about how dispiriting it felt when, despite good school grades and being the first to apply for a job, it went to someone more ‘Swedish‐looking’. It also means having to endure ‘Heil ******’ salutes, facing racist or aggressive behaviour from other young people or being attacked physically. Daniella, with a mother from Sweden and a Gambian father, was forced to seek police protection from the security police, among other things, because of the following confrontation in the metro:
It was me and my friend and we heard people screaming and we thought it was some kind of demonstration so we wanted to check out what it was all about. Just when we heard ‘zeig heil, zeig heil’; the first Nazis came around the corner. They were about 15 or 20, and my friend shouted: ‘Run!’ and I flew over the gate; I have never done that before. The ticket collector was crouched down. Just then the train came in, and I felt a huge fit of laughter, you know, you panic and just laugh, I had no energy left to run. My friend screamed that we couldn't get in the first compartment, because they [the neo‐Nazis] had also started to run. Not because they saw us … but because they also wanted to catch the metro. We got into the second compartment and then we heard that they had stabbed people in the first compartment and people just got off at the next stop. Afterwards I understood how close to death I had been, thinking about what could have happened if they got me too.
Things like that have led me to getting a protected identity, which means that the security police want me to use different routes when leaving home, that I have a direct number to the security police because they have tried to ruin my life. … Only because I have more pigment in my skin. It is absolutely ridiculous. … But security says that if they want to shoot me they can do it anyway. They [the Nazis] know where you live and then it doesn't matter how careful you are. But you should always try to make it harder for them. (Daniella)
Maria, a young woman with a South African mother, mentioned how discrimination happens, even within her own family. Her Swedish born grandmother used to enquire whether her mother allowed her to eat with a knife and fork, and also blamed ‘Africa’ when she and her sisters were naughty:
Grandma said ‘you are like the kids in Africa’. If we were noisy, did something bad, it was Africa's fault. (Maria)
The interviewees revealed memories of difference and othering that went back to early childhood.
I can't remember when it was. It has been like that all my life. I remember when I was really little, about three or four, then these old ladies said to me: ‘Oh, look the Black kid is playing just like the other kids’. It is everything, from non‐racist‐like things to things that hurt so much that people can't understand how much. For example if you are at a party and you are, like, 15. You feel like you are like everyone else, making yourself up to look the best. You look really nice, and you hang around with the other girls, looking at the cutest guys. And then one of the tougher guys shouts: ‘there you are—I can see everyone, except Daniella, because it's dark all around’. (Daniella)
Neil, adopted from Ethiopia, has known about it for as long as he can remember, but only experienced ‘difference’ when he was six or seven and had just started school. He describes this as an ‘aha experience’. He also recalls a visit he made together with his uncle to a small Swedish town out in the country:
… and then this drunk came up to me in the street and gave me money. ‘Here you go, you should have this’. ‘What?’ I thought, then my uncle asked him what he was doing. ‘Well, I have seen people like you on TV’. When I look back on it now I can see that it was his way of relating to a Black little boy in the street. It is weird situations like that that you meet. But most often, it is like ‘who are you’ … even before I start to talk. People do not know if I am adopted or who I am, or what kind of ‘odd, cunning little devil’ I am exactly. (Neil)
Fredrik, from a Finish‐Roma background, describes the first time he felt the ‘other’:
It must have been when I was quite small and we went into town to do some shopping with a relative who was wearing a big (Roma) skirt. Then everybody looked at us as if we were some kind of aliens from another planet. (Fredrik)
Likewise, Niklas recounted his experiences of being exoticized and verbally abused as follows:
I think mum and another older woman were the only immigrants in the village and as soon as I went outside with my mum, well, we were like different, and a lot of people had problems with that. Many of the older people looked at us strangely and some of them thought that because mum was wearing like ‘international’ clothes, that she was a ‘gypsy’. Others just thought she was an exotic woman with a hat like a pineapple. But then the kids used that word ‘neger’, it has been around in Sweden quite a long time, and I had my share of it. Because some kids saw ‘neger’ kids on TV, starving in Africa, the words came back to me too. Even though I am not that Black. But it did not matter to them. (Niklas)
The interviewees also talked about the fact that hostility against foreigners is frequently hidden below the surface in Sweden. Racism was described as something ‘you can't put your finger on’, but that ‘you can feel’, even if it is ‘unspoken’. It can recognized from a facial expression, the glimpse of an eye or from body language. Tori, a young woman from Eritrea, remembered how she ‘knew’ that one of the other girls at her after‐school play centre was hostile towards her because of her skin colour:
… she hated brown people. … I was the only one who was brown, and she did not like brown. … You could see it by looking at her … I felt it and I saw it. (Tori)
‘Otherness’ was also reported as a feeling of not being worth as much as everyone else, ‘something you can't touch, but it is there’, a feeling of being condemned in advance.
You feel like some kind of, I don't know what to call it, that you are unreliable, criminal, stupid, immigrant, bloody hell, it is hard to say. (Brahanne)
Many of the interviewees, however, maintained that they were ‘truly Swedish’—as they put it, they even dreamt in Swedish. They mentioned frequently the need to ‘get in’ and ‘to adjust’ to ‘normal’ Swedish society. In order to do that, they had to ignore or play down their ethnicity and background, which was difficult because they were constantly reminded they did not look like the other people around them. Neil, adopted from Ethiopia, describes how angry it made him when people from his small hometown insisted that he must come from somewhere else:
People can say, yes, ‘but it is obvious that you come from Africa, one can see that, you can't ‘come from… [X small town]’. You have to come from somewhere else or, sort of, that kind of rotten stuff. (Neil)
According to Ella, a young Sami woman, neither does it help to be born in Sweden or to ‘look like everyone else’.
I mean, when you get the questions from Swedes like ‘but why are you doing it like that’ and how do you do that’, well, things like that. Then it feels like … you’re not Swedish and you don't belong here, and that they don't actually respect you. (Ella)
The need to be watchful at all times
One aspect of ‘not belonging’, is needing to be alert and ‘on the edge’. Daniella mentioned this in relation to the world ‘neger’. She therefore tries always to ‘be prepared for neger jokes’ even though it upsets her when people continue to use the word despite her asking them not to. She reported several incidents that she found particularly upsetting—cakes in the school cafeteria being called ‘neger‐cookies’ or ‘a neger‐head with dandruff’ (chocolate cookie rolled in coconut flakes), and old films which show White actors with their faces Blacked up. She also remembers acting out in order to ‘be one of the others’.
It was only a game. It was pure luck if it lasted a whole night, especially at one of the discos, you were just lucky. What annoys me isn't that I played the games, it's the fact that I had to. The fact that there were no alternatives. (Daniella)
Neil explains that it is the things below the surface that are the real problem:
[If it is out in the open] at least you know it then, it is clear. But it is those things that aren't clearly spoken, they are really hard, it is those things that are hard to make out. It is those things you keep up your guard against. (Neil)
He recalls a situation when he and some friends were working on a group project and someone made an offensive comment about slavery. Neil left the group in disgust. The person responsible explained that he had not meant to offend but this did not help Neil.
These kinds of things can be hard, when you feel quite safe, sitting there and taking for granted we are equals, here we are, friends, doing something together. And then when such a thing comes out, just like that, it becomes really strange. You can't even take that for granted. You don't really know if you can trust this person anymore. (Neil)
Needing to work hard to ‘adapt’ to society
Adjustment to the ‘normal’ is not easy, according to the interviewees and does not only apply to immigrants. For example, Stefan, adopted from Thailand, describes his greater awareness of his minority status when in a public area. His strategy is to keep close to the ‘real’ Swedes and avoid getting too close to anyone else, e.g., keeping a distance from those whom he identifies as ‘immigrants’ and thus avoiding being associated with a less powerful group. In other cases, adjustment means having to give up large parts of individual identity, parts that may not be seen as normal in the dominant discourse. Nasrin claims that if she is to succeed in Sweden she has to ‘lives like everybody else as much as possible’. Jonas, also adopted (from South Korea), reports giving only short responses to questions about his identity in order not to ‘be seen as more different than I am’. Being careful about whether to reveal membership of a national minority is also part of adjusting to what is seen as normal in the dominant discourse. Interviewees also reported feeling forced to ‘adjust’ to their new country, the people and the culture, to the extent that they feel parts of their original selves are lost. Having to change ‘almost everything’ is how Brahanne describes it. Eric, with a Polish‐Jewish background, puts it this way:
I come from a very small family, and my parents were a little, you know, I wanted to be Swedish and they were different. To become Swedish I chose not to go to their side. And then you integrate in society but you have lost a part of yourself. And that isn't a good way to integrate. Integration is when you are proud of the other part of yourself. It is actually easier to become Swedish … [if you only keep one part]. If you have both you stand out. You become very different. (Eric)
For those interviewees who had been forced to leave their previous countries, arriving in Sweden and simultaneously losing friends, relatives and culture, were initially experienced as enormously traumatic; to quote Brahanne, like a ‘dark hell on earth’. Halima's experience of arriving to Sweden was even more dramatic; she felt as if she were dead. However, most seemed hugely determined to succeed in their adoptive country, and showed a strong motivation to be successful and to achieve a better life in Sweden.
To come to Sweden from another country, leaving your own country, all your friends, traditions, relatives, the climate. That is enough to give you a hard time. When I came to Sweden it felt like a dark hell. But I had two possibilities, either to struggle and go through everything or just give up. … My number one goal is to learn the language. Number two is to adjust to this country. (Brahanne)
Interviewees claimed that they have to work harder in order to be accepted as ‘properly Swedish’. As several put it, they need to be twice as good. If they fail, they remain ‘just yourself’ and ‘meaning nothing’.
We have to be ‘professionals’ at both being Sami and being Swedish, and also blend perfectly into the Sami world. And, often, the Sami thing, you have to learn afterwards. … It has not always been a nice thing, being a Sami. (Ella)
Nasrin, born in Iraq, describes the experience of being placed inbetween the demands of two worlds:
It can happen that you end up between two worlds, the one that school wants you to be a part of and the one your family wants you to be in. For example, this thing with swimming. According to Islam one should not be naked in front of other people, but your teacher might say you have to; otherwise your grades might suffer. And at the same time, the family don't want to say ‘no’ because your mum and dad are afraid that school will think they are too hard on their children. (Nasrin)
The importance of language and having the ‘right’ name
The importance of language and having the ‘right name’ was another theme that emerged from the study, in particular that having good Swedish was sometimes not enough. For example, both Rashid, from Somalia, and Neil, from Ethiopia, mentioned how they dealt with difficult comments, often from older people:
They used to say, ‘you speak such a good Swedish’ … but I don't know any other language! I do have real trouble learning French. Sometimes I answer back that they also speak good Swedish. And then it is like, ‘yes that's right’.(Neil)
Keeping the old language is seen by many minority families as an important aspect of being able to stay in touch with the home country. Parents show concern to preserve the ‘home’ culture, even though younger people may regard it as less important. So, having a mother tongue other than Swedish works in contradictory ways: as a positive amplifier of a (minority) cultural identity and simultaneously as a negative marker of difference. The interviewees tended to adopt the latter viewpoint. They mainly viewed mother‐tongue lessons as of low priority because, first, they were often scheduled late in the afternoon, outside school hours; and second, taking part often meant being absent from more important subjects. Thus, Jennifer explains her decision not to continue with her home language instruction as follows.
Well, she [tutor] came in during the lesson and started to talk Yugoslavian, when it was quiet and everyone was doing maths. And then she came over to me and started talking in ‘Yugg’. Everything became dead quiet; everyone was listening. (Jennifer)
Brahanne remembers that the first words of Swedish he learnt were swear words because that was the only way he could communicate. Not knowing the language initially limited what he could do, so at the beginning he was afraid of to go outdoors because he could not understand what people said to him. Similarly Halima from Iran, expressed her experiences as follows:
… everything was strange, everything was new … lonely. And you didn't understand anything. …When I came here I felt like I was dead. You understand? I couldn't … when I was sitting in the classroom and people were talking, I couldn't understand anything. I couldn't say anything, [couldn't] say what I wanted. (Halima)
Not having good Swedish made many of the interviewees feel exceptionally vulnerable. Chara, from Lebanon, mentions people looking at her ‘peculiarly’ when she first went to her Swedish school. She was teased and bullied, particular in her gymnastics class. ‘They teased me all the time’. And because she was not good at Swedish, she felt she could not fight back.
I have always been positive, lively and happy and if someone tries to tease me I have always fought back. But right then I couldn't. I couldn't speak their language. However much I tried, it went wrong. Gradually I became weaker because of not being able to fight back in Swedish. I was often sick, didn't go to school. I felt awful. (Chara)
For the Sami interviewees, the language issues were different. They could not speak Sami because in the past, it had been forbidden in schools and public life. For Ella this is a real problem.
I don't know the Sami language at all. It has disappeared. Friends of my brother were speaking Sami, but I didn't understand anything. … It was really embarrassing when I had to say: ‘I don't understand what you are talking about’. … I think many people feel like it's something I really should know, but I don't. … And it is not like not knowing French or something like that. It is bigger. If I knew Sami I could speak it with my friends. We could talk in another language, let people around know we speak our language, and that we have another culture. (Ella)
Having a foreign sounding name was another problem raised by the interviewees. For example, only two families in the building where Tori and her family live have a foreign‐ sounding name. Even though the names are very different, the post‐person seems not to be able to distinguish between them as frequently their post gets mixed up. Amina, born in Sweden with parents from Iran, recounts that after the attack on the Word Trade Centre (9/11), some of the students at school started to make a joke about her name—something she didn't find at all funny: ‘They called me Usama Bin Amina’.
Keeping one's original name or opting for a more Swedish‐sounding one was mentioned as a key decision. Jennifer, whose father came from Yugoslavia, referred to the fact that while at school, she seemed to misplace her last name. Though teachers generally refer to children either by first or last name, when it came to Jennifer—‘then, there is Jennifer, without a last name’.
And it was always like that. I don't think they thought about it … perhaps they had some kind of concern about getting it wrong. It is no problem I think, it is better if one tries. I can understand if people can't pronounce it properly. I always spell my name now. Spelling my name became the most obvious thing to do. (Jennifer)
Being let down by adults
Interviewees pointed to the fact that it is adults, in particular, parents and teachers, who have the main responsibility for preventing the spread of prejudice, racism and xenophobia to coming generations. Parents, they argue, need to pay more attention to their children's values, behaviour and well‐being.
Kids can be really mean. And what can they do in school? I think kids have to learn from when they are very little, that you just don't do it like that. With parents. It begins there. And unfortunately we were different—I was different. I had freckles, a moustache, ‘noisy’ hair and everything. It was me. They just weren't used to it; the girls were fair with straight hair. (Chara)
Neil spoke of an older person sitting next to him on the plane, who took it for granted that he couldn't speak Swedish, even though he was reading a Swedish magazine and answered her questions in Swedish—‘she just didn't make the connection. It was really strange. It is those kinds of things that happen to you’.
Jennifer recalled being often asked questions at school about the war in former Yugoslavia. Even though she was genuinely interested because she had relatives still living in the region, on one occasion she became very distressed after questioning from her teachers as well as fellow students. On seeing this, her teacher requested that she talk to him at the end of the lesson.
He said ‘I didn't mean you to get so upset. It wasn't my intention in any case. But what is it like down there, really?’ And then I asked myself, is it right that my history and civics teacher asks me questions in the corridor about the war in Yugoslavia? After all, I am only 15. (Jennifer)
Jennifer also mentioned a similar incident involving a Jewish friend, who though born and raised in Sweden, somehow became a symbol of Israel at the time of the Middle East conflict. She was often pressured to explain the situation in the region. As Jennifer commented:
I mean, how many Swedish young people are asked just like that to explain why things are as they are in Sweden today? After all, they live here too. (Jennifer)
Likewise, Ella reports how she is frequently to explain Sami politics and reindeer‐herding—questions that come up as soon as her Sami identity becomes known.
I think that perhaps Sami people living in Stockholm, they are seen as more ‘exotic beings’ than those up in the north. In Norrland [north part of Sweden] there is more general conflict. But it is nothing that ‘Swedish’ kids learn by themselves. It is something they hear from their parents sitting around the coffee table, surely. You just don't come up with things like that when you are like 14. (Ella)
The complexity of ‘us’ and ‘them’
Maria had a tough childhood mainly because of her mixed parentage. In the end, the situation in the small Swedish town where she lived became so bad that the family could not go anywhere without harassment. Eventually, the whole family decided to move, not just to a new town but to a new country. In Maria's new Manchester school, 70% of the pupils were Black. Here, at least, she thought, she will be OK. But she quickly discovered that for some students she was not Black ‘enough’, particularly as she came from Sweden. She was told ‘go home fucking Swede’. Everything changed one day, however.
But then one day, during a lesson I mentioned that my mother was born in South Africa. I was asked why I hadn't mentioned this before. All of a sudden, I became the friend of a lot of people—only because of that … but they never asked ‘who are you?’ That's the problem. (Maria)
Ella also reflected on identity and how fluid it can be, in particular in regard to the extent of her commitment to ‘being Swedish’.
My family and I have always lived in Sweden but still don't feel Swedish just like that. … I don't know if all Sami feel like this but first of all you are a Sami. Then second, of course if you’re taking a holiday … you become more Swedish. There are different identities. But deep inside you are, anyhow, more Sami than Swedish. (Ella)
Tori's earlier description of herself as ‘Brown’, Maria who describes herself as ‘Black’ and Ella's reflection on her identity changing due to context, all can be seen as examples of how identity is shaped in relation to cultural and national contexts. Tori uses the word ‘Brown’ in the context of Sweden, Maria on the other hand, uses the word ‘Black’ when she talks about her experiences as a South African Swede, living in the UK. ‘Black’ is seen as stronger and as more abusive than the word ‘Brown’ in the Swedish context. Ella shows how identity also changes in relation to cultural context; how Sami or Swedish she feels is related to where she is, which norms dominate and who is seen as ‘the other’.
Needing to be strongly motivated to become successful
The interviewees pointed time and time again to the fact that they need to work harder (and fight harder) because of their minority status. While they expressed a purposefulness and commitment to succeeding in Sweden, it was sometimes a high price to pay. Nasrin points to activities such as riding a bike that might be considered ‘strange’ in her home country but not Sweden. She continues, ‘if I am going to succeed here, I have to live like everybody else as much as possible’. Sonya places the responsibility for belonging on the individual: ‘adjustment is important but … it is up to you, if you are strong enough’. More positively, Maria argues that her experiences of racism have made her stronger and more able to see things from different perspectives. She expresses commitment to helping others ‘so it won't happen to them’.
Having to learn different strategies to survive
Another theme from the interviewees concerns how to respond to the petty cruelties that minorities face on a daily basis. Defences against these include keeping quiet on the outside while storing up the hurt ‘deep inside’. They may laugh out loud or choose to interpret insulting behaviour as nothing more than a joke. Or they may choose to confront the perpetrator.
If I am having a discussion with my friends, there tends to be someone who has something against immigrants. And the less you know about immigrants, the more prejudiced you seem to be. I ask them why they think like they do and often they say: ‘But you don't go to work, you don't care about school, you are criminal, you take drugs and you take away work from us. (Brahanne)
Brahanne generally confronts his friends and, in the end they tend to concede the point ‘fine, all right, you’re not like them, then’. Amina was likewise compelled to confront prejudice and stereotyping after the attack on World Trade Centre. She describes people in school watching her and her friends as they walked along the corridor.
You knew what they were thinking and we sat down and talked [with them] about it and I said ‘I am a Muslim, we are Muslims, my family are Muslims, are we terrorists? Are we?’ And they said, ‘well, no, but’ … ‘Fine there is your evidence—everybody isn't that way!’ Everybody held that view even if they didn't want to say it in front of me because they knew I would explode. (Amina)
Eric however finds it hard to confront racist jokes because of the risk of not being taken seriously.
If I would say to my friends ‘Tough but I see it like this’. They would probably not agree with me. Yes, they would say exactly this thing, ‘but it's only a joke’. (Eric)
Racist comments often remain unchallenged because, for the interviewees, to be on the alert costs too much energy and drains their self‐confidence. Neil tries to ignore abusive language.
Things like ‘fucking neger’, ‘go home’, or ‘what are you doing here?’ A lot of things that just come out. It is nothing. I am used to it, you know. It runs off me in a way, but of course it gets to me in another way. … But if you take up things like that, then you would have to … focus your energy, it is too much. (Neil)
Ella decides whether or not to reveal that she is a Sami ‘in the blink of an eye’, on the basis of whether it feels safe or not. It is a question of ‘survival’. She claims her right to define herself in terms of ethnicity and identity.
Conclusions and reflections
The theoretical framework of this paper has drawn on the work of a range of researchers (Essed, 1991; Bhavnani, 2001; Gaine, 1987; Pred, 2000; Sawyer, 2000, 2002; May, 1999; De los Reyes & Molina, 2002; Van, Djik, 2004), whose work illuminates everyday racism, ‘othering’ in the racist discourse, domains of conflict and the denial of racism, all of which emerged from the study. The study shows likewise that racism is multifaced and complex both in its characteristics and as a process. There is evidence of overt forms of racist confrontation but these are not the dominant features of racism in Sweden. More common is routine racism, which is part of everyday life and more or less expected. This is what Essed (1991) identifies as racism integrated into everyday situations.
Themes of the research
It is clear that in Sweden, it really matters ‘where you come from’. Being adopted, belonging to a national minority, having parents from abroad, showing characteristics deemed ‘non‐typically Swedish’: all have racist dimensions. Being labeled ‘non‐typically Swedish’ puts individuals in a racist box of the ‘other’ who can not belong. The study also shows responses to everyday racism, e.g., watchfulness, alertness, being ‘on the edge’. Power relations also play an important part, creating domains of conflict, although the specific forms they take are locally determined (Essed, 1991; Pred, 2001; Bhavnani, 2001). Three domains of conflicts, described by Essed (1991) shed light on the study. The first domain, conflicts over norms and values, is evident in experiences of having to respond to norm‐related questions suggesting difference and ‘otherness’, such as ‘where do you really come from?’ or ‘why do you do things like that?’ Being positioned at the intersection between school and family is also characteristic of this domain. The second domain, conflicts over non‐material and material resources, is evident in the racially divided labour market; for instance in this study, being Black or having a foreign name is sufficient to lose a much‐needed holiday job. Being harassed, having to face comments insults such as ‘fucking neger’ or ‘what are you doing here’ or having to endure ‘Heil ******!’ salutes, are all expression of racist harassment and social exclusion. This second domain also embraces a high level of self‐management, expressed in statements: ‘we have to be professionals at both being Sami and being Swedish’, and ‘we have to work harder to be the same’. The third domain concerns conflicts in the social world. According to Essed (1991) those who challenge or identify racism are often seen as over‐sensitive and prone to exaggeration: ‘it's only a joke’ is a common rejoinder. In presenting initial findings of this study, for example, a response was that it is unfair to show racism from only the minority point of view. This, we are told, constitutes ‘bias against the Whites’. As Essed puts it ‘group power exists as long as the group stays together against the “others”’ (Essed, 1991, p. 41).
The study also shows the variety of way in which young people actively challenge everyday racism, although in different ways: sometimes through silence, because ‘to focus your energy on that, is too much’; sometimes to laugh at a racist joke; at other times, to challenge perpetrators. Strategies for survival have clearly been developed in order, as Pred puts it, ‘to be a competent navigator, to find one's way to those few island of possibilities scattered amid a vast see of limitations’ (Pred, 2001, p. 229), so that ‘in the blink of an eye’ a situation can be judged as ‘safe’ or not.
Reflection on methodology
A methodological aim of this paper has been to evaluate the usefulness of the interview as a means of exploring deeply‐held feeling and values among young people, and as a means of uncovering how young people in today's Sweden experience intolerance, prejudice and racism, in and outside school. As a research approach, the interviews seemed to be largely successful in particular in obtaining different perspectives and angles on specific social phenomena, even though they are reported at second hand, so to speak, through the eyes of the researcher. The interviews nevertheless seem to have captured young people's ‘experience’ by providing access to the personal and anecdotal as well as to general understandings about racism (Essed, 1991).
The study suggests overall that everyday racism is a reality for many young people in Sweden, despite Sweden's international reputation as a country with a strong commitment to eradicating inequalities and injustices wherever they occur. Nevertheless the young people in the study do not respond passively; they report having learnt strategies to deal with overt and hidden aspects of racism and prejudice. They argue that they need to be tough if they are to succeed in Sweden and that to do this has to be on an individual basis. They conclude that they, as young people from ‘non‐Swedish’ backgrounds, need to work much harder than those belonging to the majority, born and raised in Sweden.
Thus ‘even in Sweden’, racism needs to be addressed both inside and outside the school (Pred, 2001)—and this is proving difficult at present. There seems to be a ‘silent agreement to make racism a non‐question in the Swedish integration debate, which is in reality one of the largest obstacles to creating strategies against racism’ (De los Reyes & Molina, 2002, p. 317). Sweden is no different to other countries in respect of these issues and therefore needs to find ways of dealing with its own forms of prejudice and racism. Especially when it comes to the everyday life of young people, it is important to recognize that denial of the existence of racism, e.g., by teachers, parents, lessens the possibilities of ‘tackle [ing] overt and institutionalized racism in … classrooms’ (Jones, 1999 p. 1). There is a need in Sweden, it seems, for new research and forms of education which show how racism operates in different Swedish contexts (Bhavnani, 2001; Hällgren et al., 2004).
There have been few studies of this nature in Sweden, and this paper is therefore an important starting point for understanding how everyday racism is experienced and how it can be challenged. As mentioned by Essed and reported in this study, ‘actors do not always have knowledge about, much less do they intend all of, the consequences of their actions’ (Essed, 1991, p. 44). Therefore the hope is that communicating and discussing the experiences of this group of young people, in this paper (and on the Swedkid web site), will help raise the level of consciousness of ‘ordinary’ Swedes about their own behaviour and about the impact of the small daily occurrences that make the difference between social and cultural inclusion and exclusion.
1. While the study includes interviewees from both majority (born in Sweden with both parents from Sweden and no connection to Swedish national minorities) and minority ethnicities in Sweden, this article focuses mainly on the experiences of the minority young people interviewed.
Andrae‐Telin, A. and Elgqvist‐Saltzman, I. 1987. Side‐by‐side in classrooms and at work … ideology and reality in Swedish educational policy and practice, Arbetsrapport nr 47, Umeå universitet, Pedagogiska Institutionen.
Last edited by nanashi; 06-09-2020 at 03:45 PM.
STATE, EXPERTS, AND ROMA: Historian Allan Etzler and pseudo-scientific racism in Sweden
Published online: 12 Oct 2019
In this articleClose
Between prison work and academia: the career of Allan Etzler
Against mass sterilization
As a marginalized scholar
Like other Nordic countries, Sweden has its dark chapter of ignominious history involving discrimination targeting Roma. However, less is known about the role of historians in the process of bringing so-called ‘scientific grounds’ to solving the ‘Gypsy problem’. In this article, I focus on this topic, using the case of the historian Allan Etzler, in order to analyse the role that Etzler played as a scholar and expert in the development of pseudo-scientific racism in Sweden.
Keywords: pseudo-scientific racism, experts and instrumental expertise, World War II, Romani people in Scandinavia
In the last decade, scholars have become increasingly interested in the role of experts in the formation of policy targeting the Roma and Travellers.1 Martin Ericsson has traced the role of academics in the development of political strategies to ‘solve the tattare problem’, and has shown that increasing radicalization occurred during World War II.2 Ludvig Wiklander has noted that Allan Etzler was one of the most influential experts in Sweden ‘within the race-biology paradigm’.3 According to David Sjögren and Thom Axelsson, experts found ‘scientific’ grounds to segregate Roma children from ordinary schools.4 Sjögren has mentioned the significant role played by Etzler within the state-run expertise, and Axelsson has remarked on the role of Etzler in the formation of school policy targeting Roma and Travellers.5 Norma Montesino has studied the role of Arthur Thesleff in the formation of Nordic expertise and the impact of Thesleff on Etzler.6 Jan Selling has discussed the key role that Harry Söderman played in the anti-Roma agenda of the International Criminal Police Commission.7 Birgitta Svensson has postulated that ‘tattare’ functioned as a necessary public ‘other’ to the Swedish folkhem.8 Anne Minken has pointed out the role of Etzler in academic debates.9
FIGURE 1 Three Roma children playing with a trolley. Taikon’s family camp in Johanneshov, Stockholm. Photo by Gunnar Lundh, 1933.
Source: Nordiska museet: NMA.0074093. Digitalt Museum. Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND.
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FIGURE 2 A group of travellers in Bohuslän. Photo by Johan Johansson, 1919. The man on the left is Frans Oskar Rosenkvist-Magnusson, and the man with a dog is Adel Rosenkvist-Magnusson. The woman on the right is Charlotte Rosenkvist-Magnusson, the wife of Adel. The photo shows five of their nine children. The 10-year-old girl in a kerchief is Hildegard Teoline Rosenkvist-Magnusson. This information was conveyed to the Bohuslän museum by Ronny Magnusson, the grandson of Hildegard Teoline.
Source: Bohuslän Museum: UMFA53464:0636. Digitalt Museum. Public domain mark (CC pdm).
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Through his affiliation to both law enforcement and academia, Etzler played a significant role as a leading expert on Roma. He was active in public debates and government investigations of Roma in Sweden. However, Etzler’s role as an expert, along with his personal network, has not previously been a focus of research. The personal archives of Etzler are kept at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm. The collection contains letters, documents, and articles, as well as manuscripts and other materials connecting to his research. No scholar has previously used these materials, which shed light on the following questions.
How did Etzler build his reputation as an expert on Roma issues?
How did his academic and prison administrative careers develop?
What factors led to the decline of his reputation as a scholar and expert?
The analytical tool used here is the concept of pseudo-scientific anti-gypsyism (aka pseudo-scientific racism); this term has been defined by various scholars.10 In this study, pseudo-scientific racism refers to the concept of ‘scientific racism’ elaborated by Elazar Barkan, John Jackson, and Nadine Weidman.11 They define ‘scientific racism’ as the pseudo-scientific approach based on questionable empirical data and methods (i.e. measurements of body parts and intelligence tests) that were used to support the so called ‘racial inferiority’ of certain ethnic groups. In the case of Roma, pseudo-scientific racism justified ‘scientifically’ their exclusion from mainstream society through discrimination and persecution. Another analytical term that will be used here is instrumental expertise, which was first proposed by Steven Shapin. According to Shapin, the 20th century experienced accelerating links between the state and expert-based knowledge.12 The modern state exploits ‘instrumental expertise, not knowledge but knowledge-power, not Truth, but competence in predicting and controlling’.13 In other words, modern governments seek out scholars who can deliver expertise that governments find convenient for solving certain issues. As Herbert Heuss has pointed out, the investigation of the interaction between the experts on Roma and states shows how and why the Roma and Sinti minority, which hardly figured in Nazi political rhetoric, became a focus of a German extermination policy.14
The Romani people first appear in Sweden in 1512, when a caravan denoted as Thaatra arrived in Stockholm. Their arrival is described in very positive terms. The group, which was led by Count Anthonius, was given a house to stay in, and the city council donated them 20 marks (about SEK20,000 in today’s value).15 Despite this auspicious beginning, the Romani people in Sweden quickly became a pariah group. The historical dismissive terms zigenare and tattare were in official use until the 1990s. They designated two groups that, in Sweden, were considered separate: Gypsies and Travellers. Today, the former ‘zigenare’ group is officially termed Svenska roma (Swedish Roma) and the ‘tattare’ group is termed Resandefolket (Travelling people). Both of them are a part of the composite Roma national minority.16 However, there are Travellers that strongly opposed such a designation. To avoid misunderstanding, this text retains the original wording used in the documents (i.e. tattareand zigenare). In the analytical parts, I will use Swedish Roma for zigenare, Travellers for tattare and Roma if and when both groups are meant. I use the English word ‘Gypsy’ in translations of derogatory references such as ‘the Gypsy problem’, as well as for translating Etzler’s own use of zigenare that sometimes meant both zigenare and tattare.
The Nazi occupation of Norway and Denmark affected the Romani people. In Norway, after the deportation of Jews, the pro-Nazi administration led by Quisling began to discuss a final solution for the ‘Gypsy question’.17 Jonas Lie, the police minister, proposed gathering all the Roma and placing them in labour camps. He also wanted to start a mass sterilization programme. Oliver Møystad, the chief of the security police, argued for deporting the Romani to the German concentration camps. In 1943, Ragnar Söderberg, a well-known businessman and the Consul General of Quisling’s Norway in Stockholm, asked the Socialstyrelse (the National Board of Health and Welfare) to share its survey of Roma with Oslo.18 In Denmark, the Institute of Human Genetics – at the request of the Municipality of Copenhagen – provided a national-scale study of Roma.19 The results were published in 1943.20 In Finland, which was allied with Germany, the government’s Centre for the Welfare of Evacuees proposed a Special Arrangement for the Gypsies, according to which homeless Romani would be placed in labour camps. A radical proposal was made in 1942 by Dr Urho Kekkonen, member of Parliament, Director of the Centre, and later Minister of Justice in 1944–1946 and President of Finland.21 Sweden was not an exception to the movement to separate Roma from the population. On 25 September 1942, the Swedish government declared that the ‘Gypsy problem’ had to be resolved immediately, as the population known as ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’ constituted a problem with which the people of the country ‘have had to fight for almost four centuries’.22 Many academics volunteered their services to the Socialstyrelse. Two of them, Allan Etzler and Gunnar Dahlberg, played a final role in establishing official expertise.23
The first Swedish doctoral dissertation on Roma was defended in 1730.24 However, the establishment of Romani scholarship took place mainly after World War I. In 1919, Herman Lundborg, the head of the Department of Racial Biology at Uppsala University, put together a travelling exhibition entitled ‘Swedish Folk Types’ that was shown in many cities. Lundborg praised the exhibition catalogue, which included over 600 photos, as ‘the first race-biological visual collection in the world’.25 In it the Romani people were positioned alongside other minorities and were described as ‘a distinctive race that consists of two small groups of tattare and zigenare’.26 Lundborg defined ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’ differently. He placed the first group in a chapter titled Zigenare, which included about 30 photos. Most of these pictures presented them positively, as an exotic oriental group. The ‘tattare’ were placed in another chapter, titled ‘Vagabonds, Tattare, Criminals and Alike’, and were described as a criminal group.27 Nevertheless, Lundborg failed to make a clear difference between these two groups. He applied the term ‘race mixing’ (rasblandning) to both ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’ and stated that some of the ‘tattare’ were of mixed Finnish-Roma descent.28 In 1919, Lundborg edited an anthology entitled Race Questions in Modern Analysis, with Special Regard to the Swedish People. Arthur Thesleff wrote a chapter about Roma in Sweden.29 In 1904, Thesleff organized the first Gypsy exhibition at Skansen: an open-air ethnographic museum in Stockholm. The exhibition, which was called Zigenarlägret, pretended to show a typical camp. However, the organizer failed to persuade any Romani to participate in the event. Instead, amateur Swedish actors pretended to play the Roma.30 In 1912, Thesleff published a study on Stockholm’s criminal jargon, in which he drew a difference between ‘pure Romani language and the secret language of the tattare’, which was, he believed, a mix of Romani and Swedish.31 Thesleff defined ‘tattare’ as a group of Gypsy origin who, in Sweden, had been denationalized and become ‘a hybrid race with more or less Romani descent’.32 According to Thesleff, they spoke ‘a dialect of Romani and have a special common physical appearance and behaviour that show their Gypsy origin’.33 Thesleff pointed out that ‘tattare should not be confused with original zigenare who came to Sweden from the Basque Provinces [sic.] and speak a pure Romani that the tattare do not understand’.34 Unlike them, the ‘zigenare’ were ‘pure-blood and original vagabond Romanies’.35 In a racist manner, he condemned both groups as ‘a biological threat to the Swedish nation through sexual relations between them and ordinary Swedes’, in what (he believed) was ‘the injection of Gypsy blood into Swedish families’.36 However, as Gunilla Lundgren shows, Thesleff was not regarded as a scholar by the academic world and his thinking had no political impact.37
Pseudo-scientific racism received enthusiastic support in universities and the government. The focus of most academic research of this sort was on perceived ‘racially-alien’ ethnic minorities. In 1922, the State Institute for Racial Biology, led by Lundborg, was established at Uppsala University. In the same year, the parliamentary Committee on the Poor Law initiated an investigation of ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’ that was completed in 1923.38 The aims of the investigation were to map this population and establish legal definitions of ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’. The investigation failed to develop such definitions. However, the committee proclaimed ‘tattare as the greatest racial problem of the Swedish nation’, because their ‘interrelations with the Swedish racial group means a deterioration of our race’.39 Frustrated, the government looked for experts who could solve the ‘problem’.
Between prison work and academia: the career of Allan Etzler
Allan Etzler was born in 1902 in Nydala, Jönköping region, in the family of a Lutheran priest. Jönköping was a traditional residence area for Travellers. After graduating from Stockholm University College, Etzler in 1928 became an administrative officer at Långholmen, the Central Prison in Stockholm. At first, Etzler’s academic interest was on medieval history.40 However, the Roma soon became the main object of his studies. In 1933, he received a grant of SEK500 from Längmanska kulturfonden to study the Romani language.41 In the same year, Etzler made a research trip to Norway to study the policies towards the Roma in that country.42 In 1939, he took a research trip to Riga and Tallinn to study the correction systems there.43 Like the Nazi expert Robert Ritter in Germany, Etzler was affiliated to both academic and law enforcement institutions. While a doctoral candidate in history, Etzler could conduct observations inside prison. From 1929 to 1943, he collected linguistic and genealogical information from 65 inmates of Traveller origin.
Etzler was one of the first historians in Sweden to use the media to build up a public reputation; in his case, as an expert in Romani issues. He published a dozen articles on Roma in the national media and gave many interviews to newspapers.44 For a time, mass media considered Etzler to be the leading Swedish expert on Roma.45 In 1942, he became acting director of the Central Prison and, in 1944, he received a doctor of philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities, Stockholm University College.46 At that time, Etzler occupied a leading position within the penitentiary administration and as the only historian in Scandinavia specializing in the Roma. The Department of Investigation at the Socialstyrelse, led by Anders Tengström, promoted Etzler as an expert on Roma and sent him internal promemoria for review and comments.47 The official report on Swedish Roma published by the Socialstyrelse in 1944 was based on Etzler’s findings.48 The categorization of ‘tattare’ presented in a 1945 report of the Socialstyrelse was based on Etzler’s research.49
On 27 May 1944, Etzler defended his doctoral thesis, titled Gypsies and Their Descendants in Sweden: History and Language. The dissertation was a coherent monograph that was unusual for that time. New research was presented in the chapters titled ‘Swedish tattare – descendants of Gypsies’, ‘Gypsy language in the Nordic countries’, and ‘Modern Swedish tattare language’. Three other chapters, titled ‘The Gypsy problem in Europe’, ‘Gypsies in Sweden’, and ‘Gypsies in Swedish military service’ were based on Etzler’s previously published articles.50 The thesis also used documents donated by Thesleff to the Royal Library of Sweden.51
Since early modern times, Swedish authorities used both the terms ‘zigenare’ and ‘tattare’ as interchangeable synonyms for the Romani people. ‘Pure-blood’ zigenare were, in fact, seen as foreigners: those already inside Sweden were strongly encouraged to leave. The greatest problem lay with their supposed progeny, the tattare who could not be perceived as foreigners. Who were they, exactly, and what was to be done with them? Therefore, the first task, according to Etzler, was to differentiate between tattare and zigenare. Etzler argued that, while both groups had Gypsy origin, they have different backgrounds. Travellers arrived in Sweden at the beginning of the 16th century, coming from Germany. However, the ‘zigenare’ arrived much later, during the 19th century, coming from Russia and Hungary. According to Etzler, the ‘zigenare’ were a small group of newcomers. In terms of religion, they belonged to the Roman-Catholic and Orthodox denominations (see Figure 1). These Roma were considered by Etzler to be a group that was ‘less problematic [and] easy to control’.52 In contrast, Etzler presented the Travellers as a large group that constituted a threat to the Swedish nation due to their clans and high birth rate.53 They had Swedish names and spoke the Swedish language. Therefore, according to Etzler, the urgent task was to register them to be able to separate them from ordinary Swedes. The native language of the Travellers was described in negative terms as a pidgin which had ‘a parasitic nature’.54 Language became a key element in Etzler’s typology. The ‘tattare’ could be distinguished from other Swedes not only by physical appearance but also by linguistic criteria; that is, they were seen to be Gypsy because they spoke a variant of Romani.
Etzler’s public defence of his thesis was a media event in Sweden. Many professors and the heads of law enforcement agencies attended the disputation along with journalists and writers (i.e. Ivar Lo-Johansson). The Gypsy Baron Johan Dimitri Taikon also attended. His faculty opponent was Ernst Söderlund, associate professor of economic history. The second opponent, Per Sandberg, was responsible for fact-checking, control of critical apparatus, and notes. The third, non-academic opponent, was Gunnar Skoglund, a theatre director, who was, according to Swedish academic tradition, supposed to keep the disputation running and fair. The examination committee had six members (very unusual for Sweden), all professors at Stockholm University College: Sven Tunberg, a professor of history and the University Vice-Chancellor; Nils Ahnlund, a professor of history; Ernst Arbman, a professor of the history of religion; Elias Wessén, a professor of Nordic languages; Herbert Tingsten, a professor of political science; and Einar Tegen, a professor of practical philosophy.55
The press reported enthusiastically on the defence and claimed that Sweden finally had a real expert who combined academic research with the education of imprisoned Roma.56 The reaction of academics was less positive. Söderlund gave critical feedback to the examination committee. He noted that Etzler’s selection of historical documents led to ‘far-reaching conclusions based on selective records’.57 Söderlund stressed that the thesis about the existence of a specific race of ‘tattare’ but with a Roma past was unconvincing. He found this idea ‘very dangerous’, as it implied using an ethnic-based approach to solve the social problem of vagrancy in Sweden.58 Wessén gave a generally positive review of the linguistic chapters. He noted that he had been following Etzler’s research for many years and agreed that a knowledge of Romani indicated a person of Gypsy origin. However, he pointed out that Etzler had simply collected Romani words without going into their etymology.59 Tunberg, Etzler’s supervisor, expressed concerns about bias in choice of primary sources. However, none of the members of the examination committee was critical to the racist content of the thesis. Finally, Tunberg gave it his stamp of approval with a passing but low grade (med berömd godkänd) and the members of the examination committee agreed.60 This low grade meant that Etlzer could not be entitled to be associate professor or a position as lecturer at the department of history. In the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Etzler published a summary of the thesis.61
No review of the thesis was published in Historisk tidskrift, Sweden’s leading academic journal of history. Olof Gjerdman, a senior researcher at the Institute for Language and Folklore discussed the dissertation in the ethnological journal Svenska landsmål och svenskt folkliv. He took issue with Etzler’s belief in the Roma origin of the ‘tattare’ group. He argued that the language of Travellers is Swedish according to its grammar and syntactic typology, and contains only a mixture of Romani words.62 Bertil Lundman reviewed the dissertation for Ymer, a journal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography.63 Lundman was associate professor in physical anthropology at Uppsala University and was one of the main advocates for using racial-biological methods to solve Sweden’s ‘tattar problem’.64 He praised the relevance of the study, but added some critical observations. According to Lundman, the dissertation had a misbalance of secondary literature and new knowledge. He noted that the selection as informants of only middle-aged men seemed problematic from a scientific point of view.65
In the present perspective of Romani studies, the dissertation was a failure. The author used problematic data collected exclusively from prisoners to claim a ‘deep asocial nature and criminality’ of Travellers.66 The book contains many racist expressions, such as ‘a special Gypsy glance’ and ‘a strong and race-based love of the knife’.67 Etzler also gives positive reference to Nazi researchers, at a time when the news of the Holocaust of Jews had reached Sweden.68 His presentation of Quisling’s Norway as a model for solving the ‘problem’69 was extremely unwise, given the knowledge of the deportation of the Jewish population to the Nazi extermination camps.70 Etzler selected sources from court and police records as empirical evidence of the ‘deep asocial, parasitic and criminal nature of the tattare’.71 His thesis described a long-term conflict between Travellers and the state and society at large. He excluded sources that told of peaceful co-existence between the Travellers and farmers.72 Etzler also used an unpublished survey of the ‘tattare’ group made by the Socialstyrelse.73 Gunborg Lundholm pointed out that this source was not wholly negative and included positive observations describing the ‘tattare as normal people like others’.74 Etzler mentioned his knowledge of such positive observations, but avoided making conclusions that did not align with his negative concept.75
One of the main points of the thesis, that of ‘natural intellectual inferiority’, lay outside of the research competence of the author. Therefore, Etzler decided to refer to some Swedish and Norwegian studies to prove his point.76 In 1942–1943, Manne Ohlander, licentiate in pedagogies at the University of Gothenburg, performed intelligence tests and genealogical examinations of children of Traveller descent attending special schools and orphanages in Sweden.77 Norwegian physician Mikael Kobro performed intelligence tests on Roma children on behalf of a Christian philanthropic organization called Den norske omstreifermisjon.78 Ohlander published his study in the journal of the Nordic Association of Special Schools, and Kobro’s study was published by Nordisk Sosialpedagogisk Tidsskrift, both of which were platforms for educators in the Nordic countries.79 Kobro’s findings were presented by Ingvald B. Carlsen, the general secretary of Den norske omstreifermisjon, at the Fourth Nordic Congress on Child Care in Helsinki as new and scientific proof for the selection of children at the orphanages.80 Both Ohlander and Kobro based their studies on extremely questionable intelligence tests of children and selected family history to show the ‘hereditary inferiority’ of Roma. The methods of both Nordic studies are similar with those of the Nazi Roma expert Eva Justin.81 Etzler planned to develop the findings of Ohlander and Kobro. Using his high-ranking position within law enforcement, he requested police chiefs to send him reports on crimes committed by Travellers who had before been inmates of the Central Prison. For example, the Police Commissioner in Stockholm, Sune Carleman, sent Etzler an internal report on a male Traveller, and promised ‘in case of future investigations in Tattare issues, to contribute with more such reports’.82 Etzler also gained access to court protocols concerning individuals of tattare origin.83
In 1942, Social-Demokraten, the Social Democratic Party’s official newspaper, published a debate concerning ‘the Gypsy problem’.84 Two leading experts were invited to participate – Etzler and Gunnar Dahlberg – as well as author Ivar Lo-Johansson, who had published a bestseller about vagrant Romani.85 Dahlberg refused to discuss the definition of ‘tattare’ before more research had been done. Lo-Johansson maintained that the ‘tattare’ had no Romani roots. Instead, he theorized that ‘they are degenerated descendants of Tattars who came to Sweden from the East, more exact from the Baltic countries’,86 which he seemed to mix up with the so-called Lithuanian Tattars, a Muslim group in Lithuania and Belarus. Etzler disagreed with Lo-Johansson and insisted that, according to the ‘family relationship’ theory, which he had developed, the tattare had Gypsy origins’.87
Etzler believed that physical appearance and knowledge of Romani language were the best criteria to identify ‘tattare’. However, during his duty at prison, Etzler met inmates of ‘tattare’ descent who did not fit this typology (see Figure 2). He called them ‘vita tattare’ (white tattare) and described them as ‘people of Germanic appearance with blonde hair and blue eyes’.88 How did Etzler perceive this group? In accordance with international racial studies, Etzler perceived them as ‘the worst element, due to a higher level of race mixing’.89 Actually, Etzler was one of few scholars in Scandinavia who followed the evolution of Nazi racial research targeting Roma. In 1938, Etzler published his article ‘The Gypsy problem’, in which he presented Nazi policies towards the Romani people:
In today’s Germany, the Gypsies are under a very strong control. To move from one place to another, they must have a special vagabond permission. In big cities, they can move only within special urban quarters. Their life is surrounded by police instructions. 90
Etzler referred to the Nazi ethnologist Martin Block to convince his readers of the efficiency of police control and segregation of Romani people:
No Gypsy would be able to leave prison anymore, if the law were followed to the letter. Fingerprints are taken from each Gypsy over 6 years old. The children are subject to special compulsory schooling.91
His thesis included a short version of this article, albeit without the pages describing the Nazi experience.92Nevertheless, Etzler praised Robert Ritter, the Nazi investigator of Romani people as a major international expert who, ‘during the last decade provided research on the Gypsies and their mixed descendants from genealogical and biological points of view on the basis of enormous data that includes 30,000 to 40,000 individuals’.93 He supported Ritter’s racist ideas on ‘the disastrous influence of Gypsy blood on the German nation’ that had underpinned the Nazi persecution.94 An article printed in 1938 in Swedish with the prophetic title ‘Gypsies in Germany will share the destiny of the Jews’ is included in Etzler’s archives.95 Etzler used Ritter’s findings to criticize the results of the previously mentioned Danish investigation. Erik Bartels and Gudrun Brun concluded that there was good possibility to integrate the Roma within three or four generations into mainstream Danish society.96 Etzler called the results of this investigation ‘unscientific’, and claimed that the case of the German Roma was fully relevant to Denmark, as ‘the Gypsies in this country moved from Germany just two generations ago, and from a biological standpoint are not less asocial compared with those who stayed in Germany’.97
In newspapers Etzler presented his views on the solution to the Swedish ‘Gypsy problem’. His first proposal was to unite scholars and experts: a national conference should be arranged in cooperation with the Institute for Racial Biology. This was never done. His next proposal was to create ‘an extensive inventory of all Gypsies and Travellers in the country’.98 Etzler proposed establishing a central personal registry of all individuals of Roma origin.99 The government adopted this proposal and, by the end of 1944, the Socialstyrelse had registered Swedish Roma and Travellers residing in the country. Etzler’s proposal involved concrete measures. Based on the Norwegian model, Etzler argued for forced prison education of adult Roma and special orphanages for Romani children. According to Etzler, workhouses should be established for all adult Romani in each region of Sweden. Special orphanages should collect all the children of both the ‘tattare’ and ‘zigenare’ groups, ‘to separate this bad element of the population and plant them in a healthy environment’.100 It is notable that Etzler later changed his view on Swedish Roma and he saw them as the ‘less problematic group’, but he proposed radical measures against them too. As is evident from the foregoing, Etzler based his proposals on racial exclusion and prison education. Forced compulsory labour should, according to Etzler, become a pedagogical task ultimately handled by the state.101 However, in democratic Sweden, Etzler met powerful opposition. Many police chiefs were sceptical of his radical measures, and stated that ‘now the situation with “tattare” is much better than ten years ago’.102 In a debate with Etzler, the Police Commissioner of Gothenburg, Axel Svensson, stressed that ‘there are Tattare who are as well-behaved and decent as ordinary Swedish citizens and are completely integrated into society’.103
Against mass sterilization
Sterilization was a key element of negative eugenics.104 Since the mid-1930s, the pro-German press (i.e. Aftonbladet) agitated for race-biological measures against the Roma people.105 World War II radicalized this discourse. In a proposal to the Riksdag regarding The Law on Work Education, forced mass sterilization was presented by the Socialstyrelse as the only way in which the ‘tattare question’ could be solved. It deemed social measures to be meaningless, and stated that a sterilization policy must be ‘consistently applied to these elements, which are disorderly, usually incapable of being integrated into society and, to a significant degree, dangerous’.106 In this proposal, the Travellers were described in extremely negative and aggressive terms as hereditary criminal vagrants that lacked morals and behavioural norms and were a ‘burden to Swedish society’.107 The high birth rate within the Traveller group was an additional argument and urged the parliament to consider systematic sterilization.108 In a manual for perinatal social workers, the Socialstyrelse ordered that all nomadic ‘zigenare and tattare’ who used such services should be referred for further medical investigation regarding eventual sterilization.109 The 1941 Medical Board’s manual – used by physicians and the governors of early treatment centres – defined vagrancy as a clear indication for sterilization on ‘asocial grounds’.110 The individuals of ‘tattare’ origin were overrepresented in applications for sterilization.111
Many experts argued that it was urgent to implement systematic sterilization of the ‘tattare’. One of these experts was Nils von Hofsten, who occupied several top positions within academia and state agencies. He was professor of zoology at Uppsala University and Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University, a member of the Board at the Institute for Racial Biology, and the chief member of the Academic Commission at the Swedish Medical Board. Instead of sterilization made on an individual ‘free-choice’ basis, Hofsten proposed compulsory sterilization of ‘all tattare’.112 In June 1943, he tried to persuade the Riksdag to follow this proposal. In an address regarding a new sterilization law, Hofsten stated: ‘The tattare [people] exhibit, to a relatively high degree, a substandard psychological profile and would thus fall under the Sterilization Act, so they could be sterilized without their consent’. He proposed not waiting for new legislation, but rather beginning the systematic sterilization of tattare immediately.113 Another powerful advocate of forced sterilization was Professor Olof Kinberg, the chief psychiatrist at the Central Prison and a colleague of Etzler. He visited hospitals and asylums and tried to convince the staff of the effectiveness of sterilizing patients of ‘tattare descent’.114
As historian Mattias Tyden points out, a core issue of contemporary academic debates concerning the sterilization of Travellers involved belief in the racial origins of the group.115 Did the ‘tattare’ compose a separate race? Or was it a mixed group of Swedes and Romani that developed over a long period due to different factors? Etzler, who supported the theory on the mixed origin of ‘tattare’, was strongly opposed to mass sterilization. He based his argument on the doubtful grounds for sterilization, as, ‘in some cases, ordinary Swedes will be the victims of wrong decisions’.116 Etzler’s position may be explained by his personal interest. As a high-ranking official convinced of the benefits of re-education within the penitentiary system (and not a race biologist!) he might have seen himself as the one who would lead a state-run project on the building of workhouses for Roma. In the end, unlike Norway and Finland, Sweden did not establish workhouses for Roma.
In 1945, Nils Beckman reviewed Etzler’s dissertation in Svensk Juristtidning.117 Beckman praised the practical value of the study of this ‘historically problematic group’, and commented that the Travellers
continue to be a significant problem for criminal policy because of their tendency, in contrast to the normal Swedish temperament, to engage in crimes against property (theft and fraud) and violent crimes (stabbing). Their link to the Gypsy people is shown by the fact that the tattare have to a greater or lesser extent preserved knowledge of and use of Gypsy words, of which some have entered Swedish criminal argot and slang.118
In 1943–1945, Beckman was acting head of the Swedish Juvenile Detention Board, which consisted of lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, prison chiefs, and members of the Riksdag, and which decided the fate of inmates. Beckman used Etzler’s findings as ‘scientific’ grounds for the decisions made by the Board. He categorized the inmates of ‘tattare origin’ as abnormal persons.119
In the thesis, Etzler criticized an unpublished survey prepared by Gunnar Dahlberg,120 which had been sent to Etzler by the Socialstyrelse.121 On the request of the Socialstyrelse, Dahlberg, a genetic scientist and head of the Institute for Racial Biology, performed a race-biological study of Travellers and measured the craniums and skin pigmentation of 115 individuals across Sweden. In 1945, Dahlberg published his findings in the journal of the Uppsala Association of Medical Doctors. Using race-biological methods, Dahlberg drew unexpected conclusions. He reported finding no racial difference between ‘tattare’ and ordinary Swedes and concluded that any problems had a social rather than racial background.122 The Socialstyrelse tasked historian Etzler to criticize Dahlberg’s findings.123 Etzler called the results of race-biological investigations ‘questionable’, as Dahlberg ignored Travellers’ knowledge of Romani and their typical vagrant way of life. Interestingly, Etzler’s criticism was not backed up by the data collected by the Socialstyrelse. Only 7% of Travellers spoke Romani (according to the inventory takers) and the majority of Travellers were settled, not nomadic.124 In response, Dahlberg questioned the quality of Etzler’s work, and argued that knowledge of Romani words among the Travellers could be explained by inter-ethnic contacts between them and Swedish Roma, rather than by a shared ethnic origin.125 As a result of this debate, the Socialstyrelse was forced to declare the investigation indecisive.126 Afterwards, the official agenda stopped, resulting in a shift in policies targeting Roma and Travellers from solving our problem with them to solving their problems.127
As a marginalized scholar
Pseudo-scientific racism was discredited in Europe because of the horrors of Nazi occupation and genocide. In Germany, the authorities brought charges against Robert Ritter for his role in the genocide of the Romani as a people. The trial terminated in 1950 and soon thereafter Ritter died in a mental hospital.128 In Sweden, a national academic round table called Race Conflicts and Race Stereotypes was held in 1953 at Gothenburg University. Etzler was not invited. The participants (which included the historian Hugo Valentin) pointed out that the Travellers should not be treated as a threat to society and that the ‘problem’ had social, not racial, origins.129 Although marginalized, Etzler continued to study the inmates of Traveller descent, but, after 1945, he focused on Romani language and folklore and left aside criminological examinations.130 In 1950, he left the Central Prison administration for a position as a high school teacher in history, literature, and civics at Lidingö high school.
The academic quality of Etzler’s work soon began to be questioned by scholars who were inspired by Dahlberg’s findings. Torgny T:son Segerstedt, professor of sociology at Uppsala University and a son of Torgny Segerstedt (a prominent anti-Nazi journalist), recruited Adam Heymowski, a young student from Poland, to write a licentiate dissertation on the origin of Travellers, which was completed in 1955.131 Heymowski concluded that Travellers were not related to the Roma, but rather were a group of social outsiders of Germanic ethnic origin, which had evolved as a result of a long-term exclusion and a vagrant way of life.132 In an article ‘Romani studies in Scandinavia’, Swedish ethnologist Carl-Herman Tillhagen pointed out that ‘Etzler’s thesis did not correspond to the demands of modern research, since the author uncritically adopted the information from official sources that mistakenly mixed zigenare and tattare’.133
In 1954, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs chose Tillhagen as an expert for its investigation on the ‘zigenare’ group. Tillhagen commented on their long-term discrimination and proposed a set of measures to combat poverty and exclusion from mainstream society, such as access to jobs, schools, and habitation.134 He criticized Etzler’s concept of the Roma origin of Travellers.135 The Ministry gave Etzler an opportunity to respond to this critique, although his response had no practical impact. It was concluded that welfare measures could solve all the ‘problems’. On the one hand, such progressive ideas were consonant with an era of social optimism and great reforms in Sweden. On the other hand, the spreading of such ideas in society devastated the unique identity of Travellers. Due to this new perspective, some civil officials and activists dealing with the Roma began to view Travellers as a kind of ‘waste product [avfallsprodukt] of the Swedish nation’.136 Heymowski’s conclusions were met critically by the Travellers, who were greatly disturbed by attempts to portray them simply as a group of social outcasts. Genealogist Lars Lindgren and writer Bo Hazell have severely criticized Heymowski’s work, and stated that ‘real’ Travellers are Roma. They based their argument on the ancestral lineage of Travellers with links to the Finnish Roma as well as on their knowledge of Romani.137
In 1965, Evert Kumm, a prominent journalist, social democrat, and member of the Working Group for Gypsy Schools published a book titled Zigenare and Ordinary Swedes. Facts about the So-called Race Conflict. Kumm harshly criticized Etzler. Without naming the author, Kumm condemned his dissertation as a typical example of Nazi-inspired racism and expressed his surprise that such a work could have been defended at Stockholm University.138 The strongest attack on Etzler’s position came from the Roma themselves. In 1965, a law office led by Göran Luterkort tried to bring a charge against Etzler based on the law forbidding racial hatred that had been adopted by the Riksdag in 1948.139 Katarina Taikon, a Romani civil activist, stood behind this charge. The grounds for legal action was an article written by Etzler for the encyclopaedia Bonniers konversationslexikon in 1948. Indeed, the article contained a number of racist comments, such as ‘the main occupation of Romani are theft, begging and divination or sorcery’.140 Etzler defined Travellers in a dismissive manner as ‘a mixed race of Gypsies and a second-rate element within the country’s population’.141 As a result of the charge, Etzler was required to write a letter of apology to Taikon.142 In 1964, Taikon had met the Nobel Prize Laureate Dr Martin Luther King. She opened his eyes to the systematic discrimination of the Roma in a country that Dr King had believed was a global model for democracy and human rights.143 The conflict between the democratic constitution – which guaranteed the equality of all citizens – and the exclusion of a certain minority brought the problems of Swedish–Roma relations into a new phase.
Taikon continued to accuse Etzler of racism. In 1966, the Socialstyrelse published the reports about Swedish Roma written by Taikon under the remarkable title Even We Own This Country, which contained strong criticism of Etzler.144 She repeated these criticisms in the famous book We Are the Roma, which was included in the high school curricula.145 According to Taikon, the denial of the school access for Roma children was based on Etzler’s idea that the mixing of ordinary Swedes and Roma was a threat to the health of the nation.146 These critical publications by Taikon marked a new shift in Swedish social policy that could be formulated as nothing about Roma without the participation of Roma.
Bertil Lundman was one of the last scientists who continued racial research on Roma and referred to Etzler. However, there was no longer a platform for such publications in Sweden.147 New times, with a focus on civil rights and a policy of inclusion for Roma, led to the retreat of pseudo-scientific racism and a loss of face for its followers. For some time, Etzler was affiliated with the Institute of Ethnology at Stockholm University. Starting in 1969, the Institute was led by Professor Mats Rehnberg, a former member of the Swedish National Socialist Workers Party’s youth organization, who had also contributed to pseudo-scientific racism.148 Etzler continued to deal with Romani studies until his retirement, but after the conflict with Taikon he changed his research focus.149 He prepared two manuscripts about the representation of Roma and Travellers in fictive literature.150 Despite many applications to publishing houses, these manuscripts were never printed. His dreams to be a full-time academic scholar never became a reality.
Ground-breaking critical studies on scientific racism written by Ashley Montagu, a British-American professor of anthropology, and Gunnar Myrdal, professor of economics at Stockholm University College, were published in New York while Nazism still flourished in Europe.151 Unlike the United States and Great Britain, interwar Sweden had no group of scientists who openly confronted racist theories.152 Under the leadership of Dahlberg, however, the Institute for Racial Biology gradually distanced itself from Nazi-inspired racial investigations.153 Following the rise of Nazism, the fight against pseudo-scientific racism became a primary concern for the Jewish minority in Sweden. However, due to the lack of local scholars, the Jewish press had to refer to international experts.154
Allan Etzler was a man of his time, as pseudo-scientific racism was accepted in the academic circles and racist theories were criticized in Sweden by only a few liberal and Leftist authors.155 The career of Etzler is a clear example of déformation professionnelle. His long-term professional socialization within the penitentiary system resulted in a distorted perception of the Roma as inherent criminals. Etzler never studied ordinary Travellers and Romani outside of prison. All his informants were men with a criminal background. After examining these men through the lens of a prison officer, Etzler applied this view to all Roma. For decades he promoted scientific anti-Gypsyism in Swedish political, academic, and cultural circles. Using his network, which covered both academia and law-enforcement agencies, Etzler contributed to anti-Roma instrumental discourse. In the mid-1940s, Etzler was at the top of his professional career. Like Robert Ritter in Germany, he was closely linked to authorities.156 This allowed him to introduce his ideas to law-enforcement agencies. At the same time, his leading position, perhaps, may have stopped plans for the compulsory sterilization of Travellers, a crime that was recognized in 1948 by international law as genocide.157 As Jukka Nyyssönen points out, the role of scholars in Nordic countries changed in the 20th century when governments began to recruit academics en masse to provide expertise for public projects, to provide scientific grounds for various investigations.158 A community of experts affiliated with different state-run projects emerged in Sweden as a result of various welfare programmes.159 However, Etzler’s ambitions to be a great expert were dashed as a result of new social policies and the disgrace of pseudo-scientific racism. The academic quality of Etzler’s works was undermined by a new generation who were sceptical of racial theories. This led to the marginalization of Etzler as a scholar. The civil movement of the Romani people forever destroyed his reputation as an expert.
The author wants to thank the blind reviewers and Dr Madeleine Hurd, Professor David Gaunt, Professor Torbjörn Nilsson, Dr Steffen Werther, Professor Klas Åmark, Dr Helena Bergman, Dr Bo Persson, Sebastian Casinge, Arvid Bergman, and Fred Taikon for their valuable comments. The draft version of this article was discussed at the research seminars at the Department of History, Stockholm University, and Institute of Contemporary History, Södertörn University.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.
This article has been republished with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article.
Last edited by nanashi; 06-09-2020 at 03:46 PM.
By Richard Anderson
Business reporter, BBC News
16 August 2012
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The German education system is much more geared to vocational training than many of its economic competitors
Imagine a country whose inhabitants work fewer hours than almost any others, whose workforce is not particularly productive and whose children spend less time at school than most of its neighbours.
Hardly a recipe for economic success, you might think.
But the country described above is none other than Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse and the world's second largest exporter; a country whose economy has single-handedly stopped the eurozone falling back into recession and the only nation rich enough to save the euro.
When you consider that only the Dutch work fewer hours among the 34 members of the OECD, that German children spend 25% less time in the classroom than their Italian counterparts, and that there are six more productive economies in Europe alone, these facts appear all the more remarkable.
So why is the German economy so powerful, and what lessons can the rest of us learn from it?
There is no doubt that Germany has benefited greatly from the euro.
By getting into bed with more sluggish economies in southern Europe, Germany adopted a much weaker currency than would otherwise have been the case - as one of the very few countries in the world running a balance of payments surplus, the deutschmark would have been a great deal stronger than the euro.
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This has provided a terrific boost to German exports, which are cheaper to overseas consumers as a result.
But this goes only some way to explaining Germany's current economic might.
Just as important are the relatively low levels of private debt. While the rest of Europe gorged on cheap credit throughout the 1990s and 2000s, German companies and individuals refused to spend beyond their means.
One reason for this, says David Kohl, deputy chief economist at Frankfurt-based Julius Baer bank, is that real interest rates in Germany remained stable, unlike those in other European economies.
"In the UK, Italy, Spain and Portugal, for example, higher inflation meant real rates moved down, so there was a huge incentive to borrow money," he says.
But cultural differences are just as significant - quite simply, Germans are uncomfortable with the concept of borrowing money and prefer to live within their own means.
"In German, borrowing is 'schulden', [the same word for] guilt. There is an attitude that if you have to borrow, there is something wrong with you," says Mr Kohl.
This has been particularly beneficial to Germany in recent years - unlike its European counterparts, consumers and businesses did not need to slash spending to cut their debt levels when banks stopped lending during the recession.
But there are other, deep-rooted reasons behind Germany's current economic pre-eminence in Europe, not least in fact the relatively low number of hours spent at work and in the classroom.
Most productive economies in OECD
Germany embarked upon a programme of fundamental labour market reform in 2003, sparked by the excesses of post-unification wage increases.
Strong employment protection legislation and a degree of trust on behalf of the workforce in well-capitalised companies that had not over-borrowed, meant the Social Democratic government was able to use its close ties with labour unions to push for moderation in wage inflation.
The reforms laid the foundation for a stable and flexible labour market. While unemployment across Europe and the US soared during the global downturn, remarkably the jobless number in Germany barely flickered.
German workers were simply willing to work fewer hours, knowing that they would keep their jobs because of it.
They were all the more willing to do so due to the stronger bond that exists between workers and employers compared with many other countries.
"There is a culture of business owners acknowledging and rewarding the efforts of the workforce," says Andreas Woergoetter, head of country studies at the OECD's economics department.
No wonder, then, that Germans work fewer hours than most.
More important still to Germany's industrial strength is the country's education system.
Hours spent at school, aged 7-14
School finishes at lunchtime across much of Germany due to what Mr Woergoetter calls a "societal preference", designed to allow children to spend more time with their families.
But it's in the later years of schooling that the German model really stands apart.
"Half of all youngsters in upper secondary school are in vocational training, and half of these are in apprenticeships," says Mr Woergoetter.
Apprentices aged 15 to 16 spend more time in the workplace receiving on-the-job training than they do in school, and after three to four years are almost guaranteed a full-time job.
And in Germany, there is less stigma attached to vocational training and technical colleges than in many countries.
"They are not considered a dead end," says Mr Woergoetter. "In some countries, company management come from those who attended business school, but in Germany, if you're ambitious and talented, you can make it to the top of even the very biggest companies."
The German education system, therefore, provides a conveyor belt of highly skilled workers to meet the specific needs of the country's long-established and powerful manufacturing base, which is rooted in the stable, small-scale family businesses that have long provided the backbone of the economy.
There is clearly much to learn from the German model, but blind replication may not be the answer.
Germany is home to some of the world's best-known manufacturers
Many economies jealously covet Germany's manufacturing prowess, particularly while demand for its industrial products in emerging markets such as China continues to boom.
And yet, not so long ago, the roles were reversed.
"Ten years ago, we in Germany were looking at the much higher value-added potential of the UK service sector," says Mr Kohl.
"There are limits to adding value in manufacturing. If you want to be rich and move up the value chain, you need to be in services."
As unlikely as it seems, perhaps one day Germany will once again look to others for inspiration.
BLM is spreading faster than sars-cov-2
Guten Morgen Deutschland und guten Nacht.
Angela Merkel - ESFJ - Hugo
Last edited by khcs; 06-09-2020 at 04:30 PM.
Ursula von der Leyen - ESFP - Napoleon The female version of Tony Blair.
The Minister of Defence during the Great Invasion of Germany in 2016. Nowadays she is busy ruining much bigger things.
And here comes the meme
Quasi identical inter-type relationship