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Marta Kolankiewicz

I am a researcher at the Department of Gender Studies. 

Currently I am working together with Maja Sager on the project The court as an emerging arena for struggles against and about racism (2017-2020) that is funded by the Swedish Research Council within their special call for research on racism. The project intends to explore courts as an emerging arena on which political and social contestations over racism take place in Sweden. This is done through an in-depth analysis of several cases in which political struggles against and about racism have moved into courts. The purpose of the project is to understand what kind of space courts provide for protection from and debate about racism, and how different forms of activism involving anti-racism, but also racism, are mobilised.

I am also rewriting my PhD thesis into a book that will be published with Routledge in 2018. My thesis, entitled Anti-Muslim Violence and the Possibility of Justice, is concerned with the ways in which justice is dispensed in Swedish courts in cases concerning anti-Muslim violence. Based on material accessed through the Swedish National Board for Crime Prevention and classified as Islamophobic hate crimes, the judicial treatment of cases that may involve racism is analysed. An aim is to explore how different laws against racism in the Swedish legal system, most importantly the penalty enhancement provision for crimes motivated by racism, work in practice. 

Through an in-depth analysis of several cases—of a mosque fire, of insulting emails and of attacks on taxi drivers—the thesis explores a particular type of silence around the possible racist nature of these acts. The main argument is that the courts’ understanding of motive, subject, language and injury, and their definition of racism, make it difficult to notice a racist dimension of these acts of violence and therefore to redress a type of harm entailed by racism. Theoretically, the thesis is located in an intersection between sociology of racism and sociology of social justice. In particular, the question of how racism and law influence each other is explored. For one, the development of Swedish legislation against racism is analysed as embedded in particular social dynamics related to racism as shameful. These dynamics lead to the passing of progressive laws, at the same time as the existence of racism may be denied. For another, the thesis examines how acts of racist violence take on new forms to avoid the accusation of racism. Drawing on feminist and critical debates on social justice, this thesis explores the limits and potential of using law in the struggle against racism.


Marta Kolankiewicz
E-post: marta.kolankiewicz [at]


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