Tobias Hubinette (ed.)
Ras och vithet: Svenska rasrelationer i gar och i dag, Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2017; 280 pp.: ISBN 9789744117980, 291 kr (paper)
As Tobias Hubinette writes in the introduction to his edited volume, the title of which translates to Race and Whiteness: Swedish Race Relations Yesterday and Today, 'The category of race and the social and cultural representations of race in relation to historical and contemporary Sweden, and to past and contemporary Swedish whiteness, is still a relatively unexplored area (p. 9, translations by the reviewer). While applications of critical race theory--and explorations of power, privilege, and oppression--have become a norm within American academic writing across disciplines, the same cannot be said of Sweden, which, for the most part, still imagines itself a society where the category of 'race' is not applicable. However, the 21st century has witnessed a growing body of academic and popular work on issues of race and racism. In 2007, Uppsala University published an anthology exploring structural discrimination faced by immigrants to Sweden (Burns et al., 2007). Hubinette himself has co-authored two books on the challenges faced in Sweden by people of African descent and by those adopted from other countries (Hubinette and Tigervall, 2008; Hubinette et al., 2014). The growing profile of hate groups has also served as a catalyst for some national self-reflection in recent years. Mattias Gardell, a professor in religious history, used the life of serial killer and white supremacist Peter Mangs to interrogate the phenomenon of 'new racism' (Gardell, 2015), while journalist Gellert Tamas (2016) paired the rise of Islamic fundamentalism with anti-Islamic, right-wing extremists in his Det svenska hatet.
However, there persists an aversion to applying ideas of race or whiteness to the Swedish experience, past or present. Ras och vithet, therefore, works to counter this aversion by offering a broad range of essays showcasing how critical race theory can capture certain nuances of Swedish social relations. The first half of the book consists of historical perspectives. Andreaz Wasniowski opens with an overview of scientific and ideological race-thinking, focusing particularly on ethnopluralism, a right-wing alternative to multiculturalism that supports segregation of ethnic groups on the basis of their purported right to be different. In 1922, Sweden became the first nation in the world to...