28 SES 01, The Fluidity of Europeanization of Education
2015-2016. More than a million people are seeking refuge in Europe. Across water or over land, children as well as adults are fleeing from war, persecution, and poverty. Thousands disappear without a trace or drown beneath the waves. Most refugees come from the war-torn Syria. In several of the member states of the European Union, exceptional policy measures are taken in order to handle the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, e.g. intensified border control and the introduction of identity checks. This precarious situation in Europe raises a number of crucial questions about the state of citizenship and belonging in contemporary Europe, during an age of large-scale international migration in which established conceptions of belonging are renegotiated: Which characteristics, abilities, or values should people have in order to belong to a certain social community? Who is included in the social community and who is excluded?
To address such questions are important, not the least in Sweden, where policy changes of late, such as intensified border controls, have drastically changed migrants’ possibilities to enter the geographical space of Sweden. These measures, in combination with the last few years’ political developments in Sweden, where a right wing extreme party, the Swedish democrats, has grown substantially, have introduced a different way to speak about migrants, refugees and the Swedish social community. Today, politicians in established parties are saying and deciding things they could not have said five years ago. In such a situation, it is more important than ever, to turn attention to the ways processes of belonging to a Swedish social community is played out by those who are on the margins or on the outside of such community, but who is also claiming their belonging to the social community.
The aim of this article is to contribute to an understanding of contemporary processes of negotiations concerning belonging and non-belonging to the Swedish social community by focusing on three individual stories of women who have migrated to Sweden. Taking on this aim, the overall purpose is surfaced – to address questions of citizenship and belonging in times of large-scale migration by giving body to them through individual stories.
We draw on Yuval-Davis (2006, 2011) work on the politics of belonging and her ideas about identifications and emotional attachments, which is one of three major analytical levels on which belonging is constructed. Identifications and attachments refer to individuals’ narratives, the stories they tell themselves and others about who they are, where they belong and where they do not belong. Such stories are always, in some way, connected to others perceptions of what belonging and non-belonging entail. This is also an emotional investment, a desire for attachment. Here the construction of identity becomes a ‘transition, always producing itself through the combined process of being and becoming, belonging and longing to belong’ (Yuval-Davis, 2006, 202). These constructions of belonging have a performative dimension, where ‘[s]pecific repetitive practices, relating to specific social and cultural spaces, which link individual and collective behaviour, are crucial for the construction and reproduction of identity narratives and constructions of attachments’ (p. 203). Thus, there is no necessary connection between a social location and a specific social identity – they rather emerge as a result of social practices. Thus, by separating the analysis of social location and constructions of social identity, there are possibilities for resistance, not only towards people’s social location, but also towards the internalizations of forced constructions of identity. Belonging is thus, and this is the third analytical aspect, an issue of value and judgment as well as an issue of contestations around how boundaries concerning identity and categories should be drawn.
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