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A stranger in my homeland. The politics of belonging among young people with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden

Eliassi, Barzoo LU (2010) In Doctoral Thesis 90
Abstract
This dissertation examines how young people with Kurdish backgrounds form their identity in Sweden with regards to processes of inclusion and exclusion. It also sheds light on the ways these young people deal with ethnic discrimination and racism. Further, the study outlines the importance of these social processes for the discipline of social work and the ways social workers can work with disadvantaged and marginalized groups and endorse their struggle for social justice and full equal citizenship beyond racist and discriminatory practices. The empirical analysis is built on interviews with 28 young men and women with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden. Postcolonial theory, belonging and identity formation constitute the central conceptual... (More)
This dissertation examines how young people with Kurdish backgrounds form their identity in Sweden with regards to processes of inclusion and exclusion. It also sheds light on the ways these young people deal with ethnic discrimination and racism. Further, the study outlines the importance of these social processes for the discipline of social work and the ways social workers can work with disadvantaged and marginalized groups and endorse their struggle for social justice and full equal citizenship beyond racist and discriminatory practices. The empirical analysis is built on interviews with 28 young men and women with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden. Postcolonial theory, belonging and identity formation constitute the central conceptual framework of this study.



The young people referred to different sites in which they experienced ethnic discrimination and stigmatization. These experiences involved the labor market, mass media, housing segregation, legal system and school system. The interviewees also referred to the roles of ‘ordinary’ Swedes in obstructing their participation in the Swedish society through exclusionary discourses relating to Swedish identity. The interviewees’ life situation in Sweden, sense of ethnic discrimination as well as disputes over identity making with other young people with Middle-Eastern background are among the most important reasons for fostering strong Kurdish nationalist sentiments, issues that are related to the ways they can exercise their citizenship rights in Sweden and how they deal with exclusionary practices in their everyday life. The study shows that the interviewees respond to and resist ethnic discrimination in a variety of ways including interpersonal debates and discussions, changing their names to Swedish names, strengthening differences between the self and the other, violence, silence and deliberately ignoring racism. They also challenged and spoke out against the gendered racism that they were subjected to in their daily lives due to the paternalist discourse of ”honor-killing”.



The research participants had been denied an equal place within the boundary of Swedishness partly due to a racist postcolonial discourse that valued whiteness highly. Paradoxically, some interviewees reproduced the same discourse through choosing to use it against black people, Africans, newly-arrived Kurdish immigrants (”imports”), ”Gypsies” and Islam in order to claim a modern Kurdish identity as near to whiteness as possible. This indicates the multiple dimensions of racism. Those who are subjected to racism and ethnic discrimination can be discriminatory and reproduce the racist discourse. Despite unequal power relations, both dominant and minoritized subjects are all marked by the postcolonial condition in structuring subjectivities, belonging and identification. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Professor de los Reyes, Paulina, Stockholm University
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
in
Doctoral Thesis 90
pages
260 pages
publisher
Mid Sweden University
defense location
Mid Sweden University
defense date
2010-09-10 10:00
ISSN
1652-893X
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
cf2a21bf-b28f-4c21-a26f-80d3bc18a152 (old id 2225931)
alternative location
http://miun.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:337597/FULLTEXT01
date added to LUP
2011-12-19 12:10:47
date last changed
2018-05-29 10:06:23
@phdthesis{cf2a21bf-b28f-4c21-a26f-80d3bc18a152,
  abstract     = {This dissertation examines how young people with Kurdish backgrounds form their identity in Sweden with regards to processes of inclusion and exclusion. It also sheds light on the ways these young people deal with ethnic discrimination and racism. Further, the study outlines the importance of these social processes for the discipline of social work and the ways social workers can work with disadvantaged and marginalized groups and endorse their struggle for social justice and full equal citizenship beyond racist and discriminatory practices. The empirical analysis is built on interviews with 28 young men and women with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden. Postcolonial theory, belonging and identity formation constitute the central conceptual framework of this study.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The young people referred to different sites in which they experienced ethnic discrimination and stigmatization. These experiences involved the labor market, mass media, housing segregation, legal system and school system. The interviewees also referred to the roles of ‘ordinary’ Swedes in obstructing their participation in the Swedish society through exclusionary discourses relating to Swedish identity. The interviewees’ life situation in Sweden, sense of ethnic discrimination as well as disputes over identity making with other young people with Middle-Eastern background are among the most important reasons for fostering strong Kurdish nationalist sentiments, issues that are related to the ways they can exercise their citizenship rights in Sweden and how they deal with exclusionary practices in their everyday life. The study shows that the interviewees respond to and resist ethnic discrimination in a variety of ways including interpersonal debates and discussions, changing their names to Swedish names, strengthening differences between the self and the other, violence, silence and deliberately ignoring racism. They also challenged and spoke out against the gendered racism that they were subjected to in their daily lives due to the paternalist discourse of ”honor-killing”.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The research participants had been denied an equal place within the boundary of Swedishness partly due to a racist postcolonial discourse that valued whiteness highly. Paradoxically, some interviewees reproduced the same discourse through choosing to use it against black people, Africans, newly-arrived Kurdish immigrants (”imports”), ”Gypsies” and Islam in order to claim a modern Kurdish identity as near to whiteness as possible. This indicates the multiple dimensions of racism. Those who are subjected to racism and ethnic discrimination can be discriminatory and reproduce the racist discourse. Despite unequal power relations, both dominant and minoritized subjects are all marked by the postcolonial condition in structuring subjectivities, belonging and identification.},
  author       = {Eliassi, Barzoo},
  issn         = {1652-893X},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {260},
  publisher    = {Mid Sweden University},
  series       = {Doctoral Thesis 90},
  title        = {A stranger in my homeland. The politics of belonging among young people with Kurdish backgrounds in Sweden},
  year         = {2010},
}