Debate over ethnological study in Sweden draws public attention

05 January 1999

There has been a debate since July 1998 in Swedish newspapers about an ethnological study of the interplay across a cultural border, published in June 1998, called "Svenskar och zigenare" — "The Swedes and the Gypsies". It was written by Karl-Olov Arnstberg, professor of ethnology at the University of Stockholm. In his book Mr Arnstberg gives a short summary of governmental policies on Roma during the last decades in Sweden. Mr Arnstberg suggests that criminality, drug problems, welfare dependency and conflicts with neighbours and authorities are typical of Roma. A considerable part of the book contains extracts from welfare records of Romani individuals in which the case histories are changed so insignificantly that most Romani people and their neighbours in the Stockholm suburbs where Arnstberg had collected his material can easily recognise the persons described. Mr Arnstberg also does not want to use the term "Roma", finding the word linguistically awkward and claiming that it is used merely by Roma activists. Among the first reviews containing criticism of the study published in the Swedish dailies in July and August 1998, were articles by two Romani persons — Ms Rosa Taikon, a respected Romani silversmith and Mr Baki Hasan, an actor. The latter states, among other things, that he would not want to judge the Swedes according to similar criteria. The academic world in Sweden, however, has so far been silent. (Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, ERRC, Helsingborgs Dagblad, Kvällsposten, Svenska Dagbladet)


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities