(O)möjliga positioner. Familjer från Iran & postkoloniala reflektioner
(Im)possible Positions. Families from Iran & Postcolonial Reflections.
This thesis is based on narratives by families originating from Iran, now residing in Sweden, Göteborg. The focus is the accounts of family, gender, relations, belongings (and class). Point of departure is a representation of “immigrant families” as problematic in the media and public debate. The overall aim is to deconstruct this image through the narratives of the families, and to suggest and present other and more complex accounts of families from Iran in Sweden. To reach the objectives of the study postcolonial theory, feminist post structuralism, deconstruction and discourse analysis are used as theoretical and methodological tools. Analytical focus are on doing family, gender, belongings and place. The empirical material consists of 31 interviews with 19 parents and young adults in seven families. The parents all have grown up in Iran before migrating to Sweden. The narratives are looked upon as accounts of discursive experience. The use of discourse in the narratives, in order to do oneself, family, gender, belongings and place, is presented as positions of the subjects. To inhabit a position is to “do identity”. Each family member uses a number of positions depending on theme, and how the narrative is situated. This is related to the theoretical notion of multiple subjects. The findings show that possibilities of differentiated positions and complex expressions, accounted for as an immigrant family, are severely restrained. However the narratives also show a large amount of creative, opposing, and radical expressions. The latter are considered as counter histories and becomes subversive manifestations. The positions occupied by the family members arrived at in accordance with a hegemonic discursive formation containing, on the one hand, “Swedishness”, modernity and democracy, and, on the other, “Iranianess”, tradition and oppression. This suggests that the family members position themselves and their families in relation to a notion of the Swedish, heterosexual, nuclear family as considered normal – and/or a notion of the Iranian, troubled family as subordinated. In a first position the family members do themselves and their families as “Swedish”, modern and democratic, while “Iranianess” is considered undesirable. This suggests being forced to choose either “Swedishness” or “Iranianess”. A second position implies that the family members position themselves and their families as both “Swedish”, democratic and modern and Iranian. The third position suggests rejecting the hegemonic discourse and placing oneself and ones family, as well as generalized notions of family, as neither “Swedish” nor “Iranian” and thus joining the struggle of defining discursive reality. The findings distorts the conception of “immigrant families” as victims of “cultural conflicts”. And thus, refutes the representation of families from Iran as “different” in comparison to “Swedish families” on the basis of national and “cultural” origins. In this discussion the perception of Iran is crucial. That is, if the concept of modernity is restricted to Western societies/practices, the notion of families from Iran in Sweden (or in Iran) will continue to be excluding and exclusive. This in turn implies being able to comprehend Iranian society, and families from Iran, as complex, and as a ground of differentiated expressions.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Social Work
Hörsal Sappören, Inst f socialt arbete, Sprängkullsgatan 23 kl. 09.15
Date of defence
Skriftserien Institutionen för socialt arbete