The Intersectional Politics of Masculinity: The Case of Hip-Hop in Sweden

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:43 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Kalle BERGGREN , Dept. of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Critical research on racialization in contemporary Europe demonstrates the extent to which dominant discourses displace sexism, homophobia, foreignness, and other unwanted characteristics onto non-white men. But how are such attributions negotiated and challenged? Over the last two decades, hip-hop culture has emerged as a central site for the articulation of resistance to racialization, by what Fatima El-Tayeb calls ‘European Others’. While research on hip-hop in Europe has tended to foreground rap artists as street-style postcolonial intellectuals, less scholarly attention has been devoted to how notions of gender and sexuality are implicated in resisting racialization. This paper presents findings from a study of rap lyrics from hip-hop in Sweden over the last twenty years. Drawing on an intersectional perspective, it seeks to challenge mono-categorical analyses of either racialization or masculinities, by focusing on the enmeshed negotiations of race, class, gender and sexuality. The analysis shows how male artists often challenge racialized discourses, but in ways that simultaneously draw on racialized stereotypes as a means for performing heterosexual masculinity. Furthermore, attention to female artists’ critique of the sexism of their male colleagues, and queer analysis of male homosocial desire, reveals how hip-hop is often very radical and conservative at the same time. In this way, I seek to complicate our knowledge of how racialization and masculinity are constructed, negotiated and challenged, by focusing on what I call an ‘intersectional politics of masculinity’.