Hip Hop, Racism, and the Welfare Society
by Alexandra D'Urso
The idea to learn more about hip hop music and anti-racist pedagogy developed from ongoing attempts to make sense of what I perceived to be a contrast between broadly held beliefs about Nordic democratic ideals juxtaposed against a setting of increasing far-right party involvement and xenophobia across the region. While this growing phenomenon is not limited to the Nordic region, it sits within a wider European context of heightened immigrant mistrust and deepening cuts to social welfare programs in the midst of the economic crisis.
Eboi - "Immigrants"
Given the greater European economic situation, increasing political extremism might appear to have an understandable context within which to grow; however, the nagging contradiction of far-right extremist activity in the region that holds a monopoly on the perception of being a democratic utopia seemed too striking to write off as merely a ripple effect of economic woes.
I chose to look at voices that contest far-right populist understandings of national identity and use the medium of hip hop music and culture to create wider spaces of belonging and self-empowerment.
Hip hop music has historically been used as a means of negotiating and putting forth alternative perspectives. Building upon my dissertation research, I wanted to learn more about examples of hip hop music’s counter-discourse on national identity, through which individuals of foreign origin feel empowered to claim national identity on their own terms.
I was curious about how rappers themselves work as public pedagogues by attempting to contextualize a larger picture of how changing socioeconomic realities at the local, regional, and international level inform public understandings of racism and discrimination. I describe how the rappers Eboi and Adam Tensta draw upon changing political circumstances to nuance and challenge popular images of immigrants in contemporary Nordic societies.