The Political Mobilisation of the Palestinian Diaspora in Sweden: Contribution to the Redefinition of the Swedish Mainstream and of the Homeland Politics

By Fanny Christou
Submitted to Session P4623 (Reproduction of Meaning in the Diaspora, 2016 Annual Meeting
Pol Science
Europe; Gaza; Jordan; Lebanon; Palestine; Syria; West Bank;
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Diasporas, as a specific kind of migration, don’t just adapt, assimilate or integrate in a fixed pre-existing mainstream receiving society. Based on the geographical implantation of the Palestinian diaspora in Sweden, it is interesting to see how a group in Diaspora, through political mobilisation, can be a factor of change at many levels. The different transnational activities of the Palestinian community in Sweden can demonstrate the extent to which members of this stateless and conflict-generated diaspora engage in and contribute to the Swedish mainstream.

Between activism and engagement, the question is to deal with the role of this specific kind of migrants as key actors for change and transformation. Such actors of mobilisation, while they migrate, become actors of engagement due to exile and the necessity to maintain a link with the homeland. This can also signify a form of reconfiguration of activism regarding the long-distance relationship to the homeland and the different forces at play in the host country.

Mobilisation strategies and transnational solidarities of Palestinians differ depending on several criteria but they all share the same sense of belonging to Palestine, as an imagined or lived territory. The memory of the lost land remains important for the Palestinian diaspora in Sweden, in terms of collective action repertoires, but dwelling on the mobilization of political resources in relation to the individual profiles of each member of the community is fundamental, regarding the individual background and the degree of socio-political capital.

A field research in the city of Malmö reflects the role of this Palestinian community in the host country, changing landscape and mixing identities. A quantitative field survey has been implemented in order to understand the construction of these identity centres, established far away from the home country but with the upholding of proximity. In addition, qualitative interviews, participating observations and network analysis have been realised to explore transnational strategies of this community and its role in the acquisition of political resources.

As a result, the involvement in the Swedish society of the Palestinian community connotes a desire to maintain, at distance, a link with the homeland. But this reconfiguration of the political mobilisation in exile is also a way to leave an imprint on the fabric of the Swedish society. This project will allow us to understand mechanisms of the reterritorialisation of the Palestinian diaspora in Sweden, analysing links between identity / territory / memory, through transnational networks.