The Imagined versus the Real Other: Multiculturalism and the Representation of Muslims in Sweden
Sammanfattning: Are Muslims so different from other citizens in Sweden, that they have to live in segregation and be separated from the rest of society? What is a Muslim, and who is to define this category? In this thesis, the author presents the main actors in this discussion and their ideological positions. The multiculturalist ideology is hegemonic in Sweden on issues concerned with cultural diversity, and intellectuals in various fields of knowledge subscribe to the main moral dictates of this ideology. In the thesis, it is claimed that the use of multiculturalist ideals when dealing with the Other masks essential cultural and social aspects and processes, and that the hegemony of multiculturalism, as in all ideological systems, is reproduced through various material and symbolic affirmations and sanctions. Actors who criticize the ideology run the risk of being classified as racists, and consequently excommunicated from the community of ideologically right-minded citizens. The statements in this hegemonic multiculturalist discourse about what is and ought to be when it comes to Muslim integration are contrasted to empirical data gathered through anthropological fieldwork in Rosengård, a Muslim neighborhood in Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden. The author shows that the discourse, which is guided by multiculturalist ideals, leaves out important fields of knowledge which are crucial to an understanding of Muslim integration. The hegemony of multiculturalism, it is argued, is an obstacle to understanding multicultural society. The unintended consequences of good intentions, inherent in the multiculturalist ideology, may actually contribute to excluding Muslims from fully participating in Swedish society.
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