Afro-Sweden

Becoming Black in a Color-Blind Country

2022
Author:

Ryan Thomas Skinner
Foreword by Jason Timbuktu Diakité

A compelling examination of Sweden’s African and Black diaspora

The first scholarly monograph in English to focus on the African and Black diaspora in Sweden, Afro-Sweden emphasizes the voices, experiences, practices, knowledge, and ideas of these communities. Its interdisciplinary approach to understanding diasporic communities is essential to contemporary conversations around such issues as the status and identity of racialized populations in Europe and the international impact of Black Lives Matter.

A remarkable work in both its content and style, Afro-Sweden compels us to reconsider our understandings of race, place, and identity, all while highlighting the presence of a population whose cultural vitality and roots are too often overlooked.

Benjamin R. Teitelbaum, author of War for Eternity: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right

Contemporary Sweden is a country with a worldwide progressive reputation, despite an undeniable tradition of racism within its borders. In the face of this contradiction of culture and history, Afro-Swedes have emerged as a vibrant demographic presence, from generations of diasporic movement, migration, and homemaking. In Afro-Sweden, Ryan Thomas Skinner uses oral histories, archival research, ethnography, and textual analysis to explore the history and culture of this diverse and growing Afro-European community.

Skinner employs the conceptual themes of “remembering” and “renaissance” to illuminate the history and culture of the Afro-Swedish community, drawing on the rich theoretical traditions of the African and Black diaspora. Remembering fosters a sustained meditation on Afro-Swedish social history, while Renaissance indexes a thriving Afro-Swedish public culture. Together, these concepts illuminate significant existential modes of Afro-Swedish being and becoming, invested in and contributing to the work of global Black studies.

The first scholarly monograph in English to focus specifically on the African and Black diaspora in Sweden, Afro-Sweden emphasizes the voices, experiences, practices, knowledge, and ideas of these communities. Its rigorously interdisciplinary approach to understanding diasporic communities is essential to contemporary conversations around such issues as the status and identity of racialized populations in Europe and the international impact of Black Lives Matter.

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Ryan Thomas Skinner is associate professor of music and African American and African studies at the Ohio State University. He is author of Bamako Sounds: The Afropolitan Ethics of Malian Music (Minnesota, 2015).

Jason Timbuktu Diakité is one of Sweden’s best-known hip-hop artists and author of the critically acclaimed memoir A Drop of Midnight.

A remarkable work in both its content and style, Afro-Sweden compels us to reconsider our understandings of race, place, and identity, all while highlighting the presence of a population whose cultural vitality and roots are too often overlooked.

Benjamin R. Teitelbaum, author of War for Eternity: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right

Ryan Skinner’s research and writing are among those rare artifacts bringing the Afro-Swedish community to life, informing our own children, even ourselves, of that vital reminder, that we are here, that we have been here for quite some time, that we belong to the global African diaspora, that our lives matter.

Jason Timbuktu Diakité, from the Foreword

Contents

Foreword

Jason Timbuktu Diakité

A Note on Orthography

Introduction: Race, Culture, and Diaspora in Afro-Sweden

Part I. Remembering

1. Invisible People

2. A Colder Congo

3. Walking While Black

Part II. Renaissance

4. Articulating Afro-Sweden

5. The Politics of Race and Diaspora

6. The Art of Renaissance

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index