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Taboo news about Sweden: the transnational assemblage of a racialized spatial imaginary

Gavan Titley (Department of Media Studies, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 24 October 2019

Issue publication date: 22 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the construction of Sweden as a racialised spatial imaginary in the emerging transnational networks of far-right media production. Departing from President Donald Trump’s widely reported remarks, in 2017, as to “what happened last night in Sweden”, it examines the racializing discourses through which Sweden is constructed as a dark future to be averted; a failed social experiment in immigration and multiculturalism symbolised by the “no-go zones” held to be dotted, yet denied, in its major cities. While the symbolic production of “problem areas” is a familiar dimension of the politics of immigration, the paper explores why Sweden-as-nation is so insistently and intimately associated with its putative no-go zones in what are termed the “revenge fantasies” of the far-right. Further, it argues that these modes of representation cannot be understood without examining the value of Sweden as a news commodity in the expansive far-right media environment.


The analysis offers the idea of “taboo news” to conceptualise putatively “alternative” news about Sweden which is confirmed through its denial in the mainstream.


It argues that examining the increasing importance of “taboo news” as a commodity form must be integrated into a reading of how these racializing narratives are produced and circulated.


In so doing, it examines the shaping of this racialised imaginary as a digital assemblage taking shape as a commodity in a newly emerging and under-researched field of communicative and ideological action.



Titley, G. (2019), "Taboo news about Sweden: the transnational assemblage of a racialized spatial imaginary", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 11/12, pp. 1010-1023.



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