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Critical Race Legal Theory in a Swedish Context
Stockholm University, Faculty of Law, Department of Law.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0777-7528
2011 (English)In: Juridisk Tidskrift, ISSN 1100-7761, Vol. 2011/12, no 1, 21-49 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

When enacting the most recent Discrimination Act (2008), the Swedish legislator deliberately removed the term “race” from the list of unlawful discrimination grounds. According to the legislative preparatory works to the act, this was to demonstrate that a biological concept of race is unacceptable: “[T]here is no scientific basis for dividing human beings into different races and from a biological perspective, consequently is there neither any reason to use the word race with respect to human beings.”  The Parliament also stated that the Swedish Government is to act in the international arena towards that the word “race”, as used with respect to human beings, to as great a degree as possible is avoided in official texts. The Government was also to review the extent to which the term “race” occurs in Swedish laws not based on international texts, and as far as possible, suggest a different term. To date, no such alternative term has been proposed, either by the Parliament or the Government. This “post-race” perspective by the Swedish Parliament can be juxtaposed against the judgments of the Swedish Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen) in cases raising claims of unlawful ethnic discrimination. In one almost contemporaneous case, by way of example, the Labour Court found that statements by fellow workers, calling the plaintiff names such as Blackey, did not amount to unlawful ethnic discrimination in the workplace as the Court found that the plaintiff had consented to this banter. The paradox resulting from these examples appears irreconcilable, with the Parliament assuming a protection that the courts are not giving. However, when evaluating this through the lens of Critical Race Theory, though still not desirable, the paradox becomes more understandable. Part One of this article sets out the legal theoretical framework addressing race based on Critical Race Theory. Part Two explores the treatment of “race” as defined by these theories with respect to religion, immigration and ethnic origins in the Swedish legislation and the case law of the Swedish Labour Court. The disparity between the application of discrimination protections by the courts and the intentions of the legislator in removing the word “race” from the legislation is explained by CRT as part of the ongoing historical process of not seriously addressing the structural discrimination existing in society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 2011/12, no 1, 21-49 p.
Keyword [en]
Critical Race Theory, Discrimination, Sweden
National Category
Law
Research subject
Legal Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-84024DiVA: diva2:578121
Available from: 2012-12-17 Created: 2012-12-17 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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