Sweden, military intervention and the loss of memory
in The politics of identity
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Within the space of roughly two decades, Sweden has changed from a neutral country to one that is currently engaged in a range of activities and practices that are far removed from the definition of neutrality. Its engagement with NATO, contribution of forces to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, and its role as a leading framework nation in the emergent EU Battle Groups suggest at first glance the shifting demands of global security practices. The rationale of the move away from traditional state-centric security, however, obscures a more complex picture. In this chapter, we investigate specific aspects of these changes in relation to Swedish security policy, specifically robust forms of military intervention. We argue that rather than reflecting global security practices, deeper endogenous processes are at work. Significantly, such engagements are part of disembedding norms around neutrality and revising public and elite memory of Sweden as a neutral state. By focusing on identity and memory, we posit that Sweden’s current military engagements are concerned with rewriting identity and with a view to making new memories (or a ‘memory bank’) of wartime experiences. This has played a crucial part in not only justifying and naturalizing specific practices and actions, but also reconstituting identity in the process.

The politics of identity

Place, space and discourse

Editors: Christine Agius and Dean Keep

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