Mehek Muftee, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR), Uppsala University

Talking Swedish values – A study on Swedish Cultural Orientation Programs for young refugees in Kenya and Sudan

This study analyzes how delegations from the Swedish Migration Agency carries out cultural orientation programs (COPs) for quota refugees about to be resettled to Sweden. The aim of COPs is to, through information, prepare the refugees for their upcoming move. This thesis is based on video observations of COPs for children and youths in Kenya and Sudan. It examines what discourses of Swedishness and life in Sweden informed the delegations information given to the refugees. The thesis shows how the delegations’ work is carried out in paradoxical ways. Their work to bring forth an ideal future as a means to bring hope to the young participants simultaneously ends up categorizing them as different. They are assumed to lack certain “Swedish values”. The delegations draw on ideas that the children need to be socialized into a particular kind of Swedishness in order to become part of the new country. The study also analyzes how the children’s participation come about during the programs. It explores children’s agency by focusing on how they manage the meetings with the Swedish Migration Agency, sometimes resisting being positioned in certain ways by the delegations.

Mehek Muftee is a sociologist with a PhD from Linköping University. She is currently doing a Post doc at CEMFOR (Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism) at Uppsala University.

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