In late summer 2015, Sweden embarked on one of the largest self-described humanitarian efforts in its history, opening its borders to 163,000 asylum seekers fleeing the way in Syria. Six months later this massive effort was over. On January 4, 2016, Sweden closed its border with Denmark. This closure makers the startling reversal of Sweden’s open borders to refugees and contravenes free movement in the Schengen Area, a founding principles of the European Union. What happened? This book sets out to explain this reversal.
What happened in Sweden is the result of the fractured nature of the welfare state, laid bare in this moment of crisis. The Swedish welfare state is based on a cracked foundation in which the core principles of equality, solidarity and inclusiveness do not necessarily or always extend to others and outsiders. The welfare state is a national project first and foremost, and will use its hard and soft power to uphold it-- for members only. At the height of the crisis as officials feared a system collapse, welfare state solvency took precedence over humanitarian principles. Social security was preserved for those on the inside even as it meant imposing insecurity for those on the outside.
In the book I develop the concept penal nationalism to explain the specific role that criminal justice plays in upholding the national order. Here I detail the growing penalization of migrants and the unquestioned used of the tools, staff, institutions and material and symbolic violence of the criminal justice in response to unwanted mobility. Penal nationalism highlights how these processes depend on the structuring capacity and moral communication of criminal justice to remake the state and nation. This kind of penal power operates to uphold national interests, reproduce ethnic and gender hierarchies, and preserve resources. Penal nationalism is a significant form of state power that will be critical to our understanding of structural realignments of the twenty-first century.
This book project was funded in part by Riksbanken Jubileumsfond Sabbatical Award and the Policing Ethnicity Research Network.