WP209 “Solidarity” and “gender equality” as a discourse of violence in Sweden: Exclusion of refugees by the decent citizen



In asylum policy regarding the civil war in Syria, Sweden?s ?generous? position vis-?-vis other European states has enabled the nation to regain its ?moral superpower? image of the 1970s, managing the population with a ?governmentality of righteousness?.? This paper looks at the repertoire of actions enabled by this governmentality, focusing on a refugee residence facility in a village in Southern Sweden. Drawing on ten months of fieldwork that involved about fifty interviews and four hours per day of participant observation, it looks at how volunteers and the wider village community individualized and reappropriated discourses of ?decency? and ?gender equality?, paradoxically enabling practices of violence towards refugees who were considered ?less? gender equal and ?less? decent. The paper uses Foucault?s notion of the biopolitical to conceptualise violence and it differs from other publications within Refugee Studies discussing violence towards refugees, which focus primarily on physical harm. Instead, the notion of violence describes the more subtle methods through which human life is ranked and hierarchized, and how a refugee never enjoys a full social existence, no matter how caring and benevolent the prevailing regime.