2023-2024 MIDEX Seminar Series: Negotiations of Ethnic & Cultural Capital beyond Ethnifying Discourses in the Swedish Literary Field: From Immigrant Writer to Racialization & Art for Art’s Sake

Wednesday 28 February 16:00-17:00 (BWT)
  • by Dr Cristine Sarrimo, Lund University

The aim is to discuss how authors in the Swedish literary field respond to predominant public discourses related to migration, and how a shift has occurred from the 1970s up to the present regarding the ascription of ethnicity to authors and their works. Earlier categorizations such as “immigrant author” and “immigrant literature” have become obsolete. Instead, the concept of racialization is in the process of being established. This discursive shift is viewed as one response in the literary field to a postmigrant condition. The concept of postmigration is introduced as a societal condition in which migrants and their descendants gain visibility in the cultural field in general, and influence the literary field specifically by negotiating ethnic and cultural capital. Bourdieu’s field theory captures negotiations of cultural capital, but in a Swedish context negotiations of aesthetic value, reminiscent of an art-for-art’s-sake position introduced by Bourdieu, has to be acknowledged as well. The latter still has a crucial impact in the field. The framework of migration requires that Bourdieu’s field theory is complemented with the concept of ethnic capital.

The empirical interest is directed towards how individual authors and a cultural journalist respond to migration policies, racism and the ascription of a migrant identity. Their personal stories on professional establishment, recognition and gaining positions in the literary field were collected via the means of face-to-face open-ended interviews. How these actors negotiate cultural and ethnic capital, and one of them the question of class in relation to a migrant identity, is discussed. These individual responses to ethnifying and racifying ascriptions and boundaries in the literary field, as well as the contemporary awareness of structural inequalities, are also signs of a postmigrant condition in the field, where demarcation lines are being made public, negotiated and transformed.

Cristine Sarrimo is Associate professor in Literary Studies at the Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University. The presentation is an outcome of the project “Academia and Cultural Production as ‘Postmigrant’ Fields in Sweden”, funded in 2021-2024 by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ Dnr. P20-0137.)

Wednesday 28 February 16:00-17:00 (BWT) Online

Attendance is free 

Latest News