The Begging Question : Sweden's Social Responses to the Roma Destitute, Paperback / softback Book

The Begging Question : Sweden's Social Responses to the Roma Destitute Paperback / softback

Part of the Cultural Geographies + Rewriting the Earth series

Paperback / softback

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Begging, thought to be an inherently un-Swedish phenomenon, became a national fixture in the 2010s as homeless Romanian and Bulgarian Roma EU citizens arrived in Sweden seeking economic opportunity.

People without shelter were forced to use public spaces as their private space, disturbing aesthetic and normative orders, creating anxiety among Swedish subjects and resulting in hate crimes and everyday racism. Parallel with Europe’s refugee crisis in the 2010s, the “begging question” peaked.

The presence of the media’s so-called EU migrants caused a crisis in Swedish society along political, juridical, moral, and social lines due to the contradiction embodied in the Swedish authorities’ denial of social support to them while simultaneously seeking to maintain the nation’s image as promoting welfare, equality, and antiracism. In The Begging Question Erik Hansson argues that the material configurations of capitalism and class society are not only racialized but also unconsciously invested with collective anxieties and desires.

By focusing on Swedish society’s response to the begging question, Hansson provides insight into the dialectics of racism.

He shrewdly deploys Marxian economics and Lacanian psychoanalysis to explain how it became possible to do what once was thought impossible: criminalize begging and make fascism politically mainstream, in Sweden.

What Hansson reveals is not just an insight into one of the most captivating countries on earth but also a timely glimpse into what it means to be human.


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