Oct 8, 2013

Hip Hop, Racism, and the Welfare Society

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.

1 comment: