Anti-Jewish Racism : Exploring the Swedish Racial Regime

Sammanfattning: The dissertation explores anti-Jewish racism as a structural phenomenon inherent to Swedish society. While research often has separated the study of anti-Jewish racism/antisemitism from other racisms, this dissertation is located within the field of critical race studies to explore anti-Jewish racism as part of larger social and racialised structures.The study is theoretically framed by a feminist and antiracist gaze that locates Sweden and constructions of “Swedishness” at the core of the analysis, enabling a perspective on anti-Jewish racism as a relational and dynamic social phenomenon. Methodologically the study is inspired by a qualitative tradition, situated at the crossroads of in-depth interviews with self-identified Jews on experiences of anti-Jewish racism and Jewish identity, discourse analysis of media debates, film analysis, and participant observations.The dissertation explores the entanglements of anti-Jewish racism with notions of “Swedish exceptionalism”, “Swedish gender equality”, the categories of Protestantism and secularism, and racism against other “Others” within what is referred to as the Swedish racial regime. By doing so, the thesis expands the field of critical race studies in Sweden to incorporate an analysis of anti-Jewish racism as a social phenomenon, but also develops a critical analysis of the Swedish racial regime through a specific focus of anti-Jewish racism.The study illuminates that migration from the Global South is often portrayed within hegemonic discourses as a racist threat against Jews, obscuring Swedish anti-Jewish racism. At the same time, the important demographical shifts that have occurred in Sweden due to this migration have rendered Jews “whiter” in relative terms, and the pressure to adapt to Protestant-secular norms of Swedish “sameness” has decreased, opening up for demands of recognition and Jewish visibility. However, Protestant-secular norms regulating Swedish society confer the category of Jews to a position of conditional “Swedishness”, with public display of Jewishness creating instances of Swedish white discomfort. Thus, the category of Jews embodies a position of ambivalence in the Swedish racial regime, subjected to processes of racialisation but also relative racial privilege. Moreover, this ambiguity occurs in a context of a dynamic of “care” towards the Jewish “Other”, shaped through the perceived threat of the Muslim “Other”, partly reducing the category of Jews to a position of victimhood, while producing an image of Sweden as a progressive and “tolerant” nation, disavowing the ongoing exclusion of those categorised as “different” from Swedish Protestant secularism.The dissertation suggests that challenging the demands for Swedish “sameness” and the dismantling of hegemonic and racist notions of “Swedishness” would open up for greater possibilities of lives beyond racism.