Mette Wiggen – Whatever happened to equality, solidarity and tolerance in Scandinavia?




Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Queen’s Rd,
Richmond TW10 6JP

The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right in partnership with Richmond, the American University in London presents:

A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches

Dr Mette Wiggen (University of Leeds) – Whatever happened to equality, solidarity and tolerance in Scandinavia?

This paper will explore how the Scandinavian countries have become the strictest, most intolerant countries in Europe when it comes to asylum and immigration. Denmark is planning to isolate unwanted migrants to a tiny island, Norway deports more young Afghans back to Afghanistan than any other European country and Sweden that had the most generous immigration laws in Europe has introduced new restrictions to family reunification as a result of pressure from the radical right.

The main focus will be on Norway that has attracted international attention and concern over its treatment of asylum seekers.

The mainstream have for decades promoted a neo liberal and welfare chauvinistic agenda, the labour party virtually copied the radical right Fremskrittspartiet’s ( FrP) immigration and integration policies  in their new strategy in 2011.

This paper will argue that there is a history of intolerance and inequality in a bastion of social democracy, where discrimination of ethnic minorities, especially Jews and Sami was the norm for decades if not centuries before the radical right parties gained power and notoriety.  Both Sweden and Norway have a long tradition of discrimination against the Sami population where the state continues to appropriate Sami land and natural resources.  Norway that was occupied by Germany during the second  world war sent nearly all the country’s Jewish population to concentration camps. Only recently is the truth about how that could happen beginning to emerge.

Discrimination and othering vis a vis immigrants follow a long, orientalist tradition and a view that there is a hierarchy of cultures and that the Scandinavian majority culture is superior to others.


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