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The court as an emerging arena for struggles against and about racism

Marta Kolankiewicz and Maja Sager: The court as an emerging arena for struggles against and about racism. 2017-2020

This project 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.

The cases have been selected so as to cover different forms of racism that are somehow addressed by the law, be it directly––such as the law against hate speech and hate crimes or anti-discrimination laws, or indirectly––such as legislation addressing the right to asylum.

The case studies draw on diverse material, including court documents and police files, relevant media material, as well as ethnography and interviews with the different actors involved.

With this project we intend to contribute to contemporary knowledge production and historical documentation of the different expressions of racism/s and of struggles and strategies of Swedish antiracist movements.

Another contribution of the project is to feminist and antiracist theoretical discussions about law and the legal arena in general and Swedish courts specifically, as well as issues of power, social change and social movements.

Theoretically and empirically we are analysing and exploring some of the clashes and tensions between phenomena that separately are understood as inviolable in liberal democracies: for example the tensions between protection from hate speech and the freedom of expression; the tensions between narratives connected to Swedish gender equality and freedom of religion; the tensions between individual human rights to mobility and asylum, and the states’ right to control their borders.