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InterNacionalistas: identifikation och främlingskap i svenska solidaritetsarbetares berättelser från Nicaragua
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to explore what solidarity workers from Sweden narrate about and from activities in Nicaragua. I focus on how identities reflect nationalising, racialising and gendering imaginations, and how these are being handled within the context of an international solidarity movement – with the ambition to strive for global justice.

My search for answers takes its point of departure in a wide gender-oriented postcolonial perspective. With an understanding of identities and places as relational and plastic, postcolonial theory attempts to see the inevitable dilemmas of colonialism, to visualise people who have been sacrificed in the name of colonialism and nationalism. It is a theoretical field concerned with the struggle for the word, values and actions categorised by a (post)colonial order. The dissertation is divided into six chapters. After the introductory chapter, chapter 2 contains a discussion of the concept solidarity as a valuable designation for these activities, connected to a national self-image and as a determining factor for the informants' understanding of their identities.

One fundamental theme in this study is the tension concerning “white”, “western”, “Swedish” solidarity workers speaking for and working with people in Nicaragua. In Chapter 3, “To make oneself trustworthy”, I take a closer look at this and discusses how the interviewees verbalised strategies to handle possible positions and the paradoxes of their employment. In chapter 4 “Nationalising gender”, I examine the speech of women, men, machismo and gender equality – and how they interrelate with other factors within the stories from the period in Nicaragua.

The difficulties to intervene as a Swedish volunteer or coordinator in Nicaragua were well known among the interviewees/narrators and their organisations. How and what activities for change could be in different parts of the world were, and are, repeated questions within (at least this part of) the Swedish international solidarity movement. This is one reason why the solidarity organisations emphasised the importance of creating space for social change via information and moulding of public opinion. In Chapter five, “Describe Nicaragua”, I analyse the written stories by solidarity workers. I take departure in a few of the dominating themes and clarify how Nicaragua was mediated to a Swedish speaking reader. I argue that the stories of the solidarity workers are captured between recognising difference and creating stereotypes and exotic projections. Even though their object is the opposite, they tend to produce representations which demand the Other to stay in the place of difference. In the very last part I discuss some problems with being the “voice of the poor”.

The dissertation concludes with a short summary of some of the most central themes. Here I refer to the narrated liminality and inherited boundaries of the employment. I discuss the anti-imperialist and feminist work with a national dead weight and the efforts to create alternative images and translocal subject positions. I end the study by reflecting on the difficulties of an internationalist “we” and with reference to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, I call for “unlearning our privileges as our loss”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bokförlaget h:ström - Text & Kultur , 2007. , 308 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 43Serie Akademi, ISSN 1653-9575 ; 5
Keyword [en]
geopolitics, self-images, racialization, spokesman/woman, subaltern, identification, Sweden in/and Nicaragua, postcolonial studies, postcolonial feminism, estrangement, international solidarity, modernity/pre-modernity, development, gender, nationality
Keyword [sv]
Sverige i/och Nicaragua, postkoloniala studier, geopolitik, identifikation, främlingskap, internationell solidaritet, modernitet/förmodernitet, utveckling, genus, nationalitet, självbilder, rasifiering, talesman/kvinna, subalterna, postkolonial feminism
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1324ISBN: 978-91-7327-034-2OAI: diva2:140652
Public defence
2007-09-22, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, 901 74 Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-08-31 Created: 2007-08-31 Last updated: 2009-12-09Bibliographically approved

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