The Swedish r-word
"The Swedish r-word: Uses and negotiations of the terms race and racism in contemporary Swedish online and social media discourse"
Swedish attitudes towards and relations to matters of race and racism, including how the very words themselves are used and understood, are in many ways exceptional in an international comparison. There is a deeply entrenched taboo in Sweden against all types of racial categorizations and labelings, which extends to a taboo on even using the words, making race the Swedish r-word. In this sense, Sweden may be described as an antiracial society. Nevertheless, manifest negotiations of what racism is, and who or what is or is not racist, are very common in public and semi-public debates.
The purpose of this critical race theoretical, sociolinguistic and discourse analytical project is to investigate how the terms race [ras], racism [rasism], and racist [rasist/rasistisk/-t] are put to use and metalinguistically defined, contested, and negotiated in informal contexts of mediated interactions.The project will be based on case studies of the uses and negotations of these terms in social media and online discourses across different online platforms, demographic groups, and political persuasions.
The project poses questions concerning what discursive contexts the terms race and racism appear in, how they are articulated in terms of denotation and connotation, and how they are received by other interactants in terms of interactional consequences. Furthermore, another aim is to relate these ‘everyday’ meanings of the Swedish r-word to official and institutionalized conceptualizations.
This project is financed by the Swedish Research Council (Reg no 2019-03291) and conducted by KuFo researchers Tobias Hübinette and Peter Wikström.