The Swedish r-word
”The Swedish R-word” is a research project investigating uses and negotiations of the terms race and racism in a contemporary Swedish context. The project encompasses historical forays into the post-war era as well as a concentrated focus on discourse in contemporary media and social networks.
The deracialisation of Sweden. Understandings of race and racism in the post-war era is a research anthology in Swedish edited by Tobias Hübinette and Peter Wikström. It was published in March 2023 by Karlstad University Press and the peer review consortium Kriterium, and comprises contributions from thirteen researchers representing multiple disciplinary approaches. The anthology is available Open Access from Kriterium (länk: https://www.kriterium.se/site/books/e/10.59217/kriterium.47/).
Race in Sweden. Racism and antiracism in the world’s first ’colourblind’ nation is an internationally oriented book in English on the emergence of contemporary Sweden’s relation to racial issues and the concept of race. The book is authored by Tobias Hübinette, Catrin Lundström (Linköping University), and Peter Wikström, and was published in May 2023 by Routledge. The book can be purchased, and select chapters can be read Open Access, at the publisher website (länk: https://www.routledge.com/Race-in-Sweden-Racism-and-Antiracism-in-the-Worlds-First-Colourblind/Hubinette-Lundstrom-Wikstrom/p/book/9781032385891).
Sweden’s and the Swedish people’s atittude and relation to questions of race and racism, including the very understanding and usage of the terms themselves, are in many ways exceptional in an international comparison. There is a deep-set taboo in Sweden against all forms of racial categorisation and classification that extends to even discussing or using the term race. In these sense, one can talk about the existance a ”Swedish R-word”, and Sweden can be understood as an anti-racialist and a colourblind society.
Despite this, questions of what does or does not constitute racism, who is or who isn’t to be considered racist, and the like, are frequently recurrent in different types of public and semi-public fora for debate, among other things in relation to issues of migration and integration, Swedishness and Swedish values, and majority–minority relations.
The aim of this critical race theoretical and sociolinguistic as well as discourse analytic project is to investigate how the Swedish terms for race, racism, racist, including derivations, are used, defined, contested, and negotiated metalinguistically, both in formal and informal contexts consisting of media texts from journalistic and social media. In this way, the project explores how the coulour-blind orientation to the ”R-word” and related concepts has emerged, as well as how it is reproduced, mobilised, and renegotiated in today’s Sweden.
The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council (Reg. No. 2019-03291), 2020–2023, and is conducted by the KuFo researchers Tobias Hübinette and Peter Wikström.