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Representations through Art: Sweden

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What role can representations through art play in busting myths that perpetuate racist stereotypes which flatten people’s everyday lived experiences? How can art be used as both an individual and collective tool to confront social exclusions? This paper takes a closer look in the context of Sweden, demonstrating just how meaningful art and collective actions can be, and where challenges remain. Check out the abstract below, and then click through to the main article to learn more: 

Representations through Art: ‘We just want to make art’ – Women with experiences of racial othering reflect on art, activism and representation

Peer-reviewed research by: Mehek Muftee & René León Rosales

In recent years, Swedish women belonging to a post-migrant generation have made their voices against racism and social inequality prominent within public debate. Engaging in segregated and economically deprived suburbs, these women make use of art in order to counter stereotypical narratives of themselves and their communities. Based on interviews from two research projects, Accessing Utopia and Gendered Islamophobia in Sweden, this article aims to understand the complexities in using art to protest racist structures and stereotypes. In what ways are the young women making room for their own creative expressions in Swedish society, while countering processes of othering? How does the work of representation affect them? What meaning do the women give to the platforms and networks they have been involved in? This article shows that the women’s early experiences of othering and meeting likeminded youths play a central role in order to either enter or create collective platforms where they can creatively engage in expressing their subjectivities and counter society’s controlling images. Projects and platforms such as Revolution Poetry and Swedish hijabis provided collective self-care through support and confidence building among youths from marginalized communities. These platforms can be seen as an artistic homeplace for the interlocutors. The article also shows that the work of representation is sometimes felt as limiting. The activism the women engage in is a deeply personal struggle for self-valuation and seeking ways to live a life on one’s own terms.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2022 in the European Journal of Women’s Studies.

Full Reference //

Muftee, M., & León Rosales, R. (2022). ‘We just want to make art’ – Women with experiences of racial othering reflect on art, activism and representation. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 29(4), 559–576.

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