Subjects of Feminism : The Production and Practice of Anxiety in a Swedish Activist Community

Sammanfattning: Anxiety is a zeitgeist of our time. The range of themes to which anxiety attaches today are truly vast, but anxiety arises and is cultivated in specific ways among different groups of people. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm, in 2017 and 2018, this thesis explores the role that anxiety plays in contemporary feminist activist culture. The thesis focuses on several salient features of that culture: the cultivation of safe spaces and separatist rooms for women and nonbinary people; the place and role of male feminists in the community; how the activists translated the academic concept of intersectionality into an activist practice; and some of the creative ways in which individual feminist activists dealt with anxiety. Theories emphasizing how safety has become a primary cultural value, as well as how we have collectively unlearnt to live with uncertainty, shed light on the anxiety that proliferated in the feminist activist community I discuss. Contemporary anxiety is also partly explained by theories stressing the ways in which society has become uncertain in novel ways in the wake of neoliberalism. Among the feminist activists I came to know in Stockholm, collectively devised strategies to do good cultivated a particular social dynamic that rendered individual feminist activists anxious. How might they take personal responsibility for the revolutionary ambitions of feminism? How can they avoid excluding any potential subjects of feminism? What happens if they say or do something that upsets or offends other feminist activists? This thesis examines the relationship between collectively devised strategies to do good and the resulting production of anxiety.

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