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"Come Hear our Merry Song": Shifts in the Sound of Swedish Radical Nationalism


Organized opposition to immigration, globalization, and minority groups in Sweden exploded during the 1980s and 1990s, energized in large part by the spread of skinhead subculture and a booming domestic white power music industry. Despite its relatively large size, the hooliganism of late-twentieth-century radical nationalism in Sweden stifled appreciable political gains, and activists began calling for reforms that could render their scene less offensive to mainstream sensibilities. This dissertation examines the role of musical practice in Swedish radical nationalism during the past ten years—during a time when organized opposition to immigration in Sweden would achieve its most striking political successes and transformations. The study is based on reviews of nationalist music, surveys of nationalist online media and discussion forums, and extensive ethnographic fieldwork. This dissertation explores nationalists' burgeoning interest in producing and celebrating music genres beyond punk and metal. It examines the rise of anti-immigrant, white nationalist rap and reggae in Sweden, nationalists' strengthening investment in traditional Swedish folk music, and the emergence and popularity of "freedom pop." This study investigates the ways nationalists use musical sound to articulate and stylize understandings of themselves as victims. It also analyzes the ways activists relate their musical practices to their politics, showing how some use music to demonstrate their uniformity with the mainstream, their commitment to universal causes, or their devotion to Swedishness, while others engage the art form to temporarily escape the identity and lifestyle they assign themselves. This dissertation argues that insiders' musical practices after the turn of the twenty-first century illuminate and respond to reformed nationalism's double imperative to suppress deviance in some contexts, and enhance it in others. It shows that contemporary nationalists' ideological convictions continue to inform their musical behaviors and vice versa, and that nationalists continue using music to express and understand who they are and what they fight for.
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2013)

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Teitelbaum, Benjamin R., "'Come Hear our Merry Song': Shifts in the Sound of Swedish Radical Nationalism" (2013). Ethnomusicology Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.