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10.00  The Challenges of Somali Cultural Heritage for the Dominant Heritage Discourse in Sweden

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This paper is based on a recent study by Abdi-Noor Mohamed on tangible and intangible Somali cultural heritage in Sweden. Since the 1990s, about 45,000 refugees have arrived in Sweden as a result of the civil war in Somalia. In 2014, 1.6 million of Sweden’s population were born abroad, equivalent to over 16% of the total population (with this proportion likely growing further in the coming years). This study draws mainly on an extensive digital documentation of stories of Somali immigrants to Sweden forming part of the Mobile Museum that Mohamed has been curating since 2012. In addition, he conducted several new interviews with members of the Somali community in Sweden and made many additional observations.

In this paper, we will critically review the way in which the Somali community in Sweden relates to existing museum exhibitions about the Swedish past. We will also discuss how their immigrant experience in Sweden creates its own heritage outside the dominant heritage discourse in Sweden. We will conclude with a discussion of the significance of an emerging Somali-Swedish hybrid heritage that re-mixes both Swedish and Somali heritage. This new heritage challenges the existing heritage discourse in Sweden insofar as it poses questions about the significance—and indeed relevance—for a growing minority of large parts of the existing cultural heritage and affirms a need to embrace and develop hybrid forms of heritage emerging as a result of contemporary migrations.

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