Imagining Sweden: “Sweden” as lodestar and punching bag for far-right movements in the US
- Contact person:
- Tina Askanius
- The Fulbright Program
- Responsible at MaU:
- Tina Askanius
- Collaborators and other project members:
- Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL) American University
- Time frame:
- 20 February 2023 - 20 May 2023
- Research subject:
About the project
Sweden currently occupies an uneasy and, at first sight, paradoxical space in contemporary far-right discourse around the world, but perhaps most notably in the United States. Here, Sweden, or rather ideas about Sweden, have long served as a central trope in the media discourse of far-right movements but today more than ever it seems to work as a particularly powerful ‘repository of myths, fantasies and projections’ (Titley 2019: 1020). However, there is a peculiar duality at the heart of the discourses through which Sweden is currently being recruited for far-right political agendas in the US: On the one hand, the country is constructed as a “cradle of white purity” and stronghold of individual liberty to venerate and ally with, and on the other, as a European bastion of state-sanctioned multiculturalism, totalitarian feminism and anti-white ideology to resist and dismantle. In this sense, Sweden seems to work as a powerful multivalent signifier that can be molded for different ideological purposes.
How do we make sense of this contradictory invocation of Sweden in far-right discourse in the US? And what can we learn more generally about the directions of far-right movement mobilization - about which ideas feed and fuel them - from understanding how Sweden-as-nation is imagined and weaponized at this critical juncture? It is towards the intricacies and contingencies of these discourses about Sweden, and their specific functions in the context of far-right movements in the US, that this project directs attention.