Sunday, August 9, 2009

The phrase Only-Never In Sweden has its origins in the title of a book by the late Professor Alan Pred - Even In Sweden published by the University of California Press in 2000. What is it that occurs Even In Sweden? The sub (or super) title of Professor Pred's book makes that clear: Racisms, Racialized Spaces and the Popular Geographical Imagination.

Professor Pred and I first arrived in Sweden from our east coast (me) and west coast (him) locations at about the same time - 1990-1991. We both brought with us the soon to be discovered curious notion that Sweden was, unlike other countries, a place where all were accepted, all were equal whatever their color, background, or history. It is now difficult to trace the origins of this curious faith, but anecdotally I can report that I had read of black American jazz musicians who reported that in Sweden or Denmark they had been received as equals and not subject to the treatment all too often given them in the United States.

I went back to the USA in 1992, puzzled by my discoveries that Sweden was not at all as I had believed. Once I returned in 1996 to stay for good, I, like Professor Pred, learned day by day how wrong we had been about what it meant to be "different" in Sweden. Anyone who takes up residence in a new country becomes an amateur sociologist, one who learns a little bit about elements of the new societies and may even go beyond that to try to understand that new society.

Yet one could feel quite alone because the Swedish self image was and perhaps is that we are the best in the world, seen from the moral and ethical point of view. Feeling quite alone, it was an extraordinary experience to discover one day in 2004, that an American Intellectual (not a designation liked in Sweden) had studied in depth the phenomena that I observed daily on a personal level in the small university town of Linköping.

The next step to be taken is to draw on the obituary of the late Professor Pred and to sample his paraphrases of Gunnar Myrdal's statements about America and race.

1 comment:

  1. Vackra ord. Jag ser fram emot att läsa denna