Professor Annika Rabo, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Conflicts and identities among the Assyrians in Sweden

Assyrians or Syriacs have settled in Sweden since the late 1960s. By founding many associations they have been mobilized into, and as a diaspora. The Swedish welfare state has in many ways supported the formation of the many and often competing organizations and it is possible to regard the Assyrians/Syriac in Sweden, not as one diaspora but at least as two. Diasporic activities have been channelled into associations devoted to political, cultural, religious and sport activities. But the successful gathering of Assyrians and Syriacs in the Swedish diaspora also poses dilemmas. There are vital, difficult and often painful debates among the Assyrians/Syriacs about how individuals and the group as a whole should relate to Sweden, to each other in the diaspora and to the homelands.
This presentation is based on a research project focusing on Assyrians in Sweden and their transnational commitments. The development of diaspora formation in Sweden including the development of competing organizations will be traced. The conflicts and splits are often lamented by ordinary people. But instead the often fierce conflicts over ethnic identity and over historiography may have contributed to the development of a diasporic consciousness. In the presentation the replenishment of Assyrians through political conflicts and wars in the countries of origin will also be discussed, as well as the many efforts to simultaneously live in the diaspora and be transnationally committed. 

NB The seminar will be held in Swedish.

Find out more about the Migration cluster at the Department of Social Anthropology.

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