Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
National Identity and the “Problem” of Integration
In the coastal town of Fuengirola, the institutionalization of whiteness looked slightly
different. Fuengirola constituted a prime destination for Swedish migrants so it was, I
was often told, possible to “live an entirely Swedish life” here, which included social
networks, food, language, music, as well as professional contacts with insurance com-
panies, dentists, housing, and other needs. At the same time, this view was challenged
by the informants as being “stereotypical” and giving a negative picture of Swedes who
in fact tried to learn Spanish and to be a part of Spanish society. Yet, during my field-
work, I learned that most Swedish activities that one could take part in in Fuengirola
were on the one hand considerably more inclusive to people with diverse class back-
grounds, but on the other hand excluded nationalities other than Swedish. The Swedish
women who identified as “upper class”—yet who lived in Fuengirola—were more ori-
ented toward the activities in Marbella than in Fuengirola. The Swedish activities in
Fuengirola included genealogical research, the Swedish Church choir, the local sewing
circle (informally called “la junta”), a quiz night, and the weekly Swedish dance or-
chestra night at Hotel Florida, in addition to a variety of Swedish restaurants that organ-
ized special activities, clubs for Nordic people, food at Swedish grocery stores, a loc-
al Swedish radio station “for Coastal Swedes,” and magazines in Swedish, such as En
Sueco , the South Coast , and the Swedish Magazine . This also implied that the discourse
of an “international community” was not as strong in Fuengirola as in Marbella. Instead
that Swedish migrants have no relation to Spanish people or Spanish society.
Freja, 55, has lived with her husband outside Fuengirola for more than 10 years. In
light of her experiences in Spain, she has lost her belief in integration.
To live in this culture. Even if we are not … Andalusian people, never will
be. We will always be foreigners to them, Andalusian people and Spaniards
for, this thing with integration. But it is not easy. And I have taught Swedish
to immigrants and things like that.
Catrin: So how do you think about that in relation to yourself?
For my part I must say that the idea of integration is not a valid one. Then
you have to be in a mixed marriage, I think. Then you can become integ-
men have done, and they had their children here, that's more Spanish. They
have been here for a long time, they came when they were young, they had
their children here, the children have become more Spanish than Swedish,
even if they can speak Swedish. They have grandchildren, they have sons-
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