Signe Askersjö

Doctoral Student

School of Global Studies
Visiting address
Konstepidemins väg 2
41314 Göteborg
Room number
E 502a
Postal address
Box 700
40530 Göteborg

About Signe Askersjö

  • PhD student in Social Anthropology, University of Gothenburg, 2020 –
  • MSc in Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, 2016 – 2018
  • BA in Social Anthropology, History of Ideas, International Relations, Stockholm University, 2013 – 2016

How to think differently about difference: convivialities and contentions in a postmigration condition

In the Swedish integration debate, difference is constructed as an inevitable problem. This notion has become an unquestionable truth, echoing across political, social, and academic spheres. In turn, these debates end up producing fundamental and unbridgeable differences between so-called “natives” and “migrants”. This thesis strives to move beyond this ethos and challenges us to think otherwise.

To understand how differences and sameness are made in the everyday, I empirically investigate this at a large DIY store in Sweden. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork amongst employees, the thesis moves away from ideas about inevitable conflicts or specific cemented categories as it delves into how differences and sameness are experienced in everyday life. With a focus on experiences of difference and sameness in the postmigration condition, this thesis makes several theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions to an anthropology that can move beyond binary oppositions by providing alternative narratives to a taken-for-granted truth.

The thesis suggests a novel approach to examining the social production of difference and sameness by applying the postmigration condition as a conceptual point of departure. The concept of the postmigration condition allows for a “theoretical troubling” that is not trying to signal an “idealised overcoming” of all differences but rather an interrogation of how the obsession with migration intersects with exclusions and racism and how the postmigration condition embodies a myriad of different 'life-worlds and experiences' (Gaonkar et al. 2021: 25). By utilising the postmigration concept the thesis explores how differences and similarities are experienced in contentious and convivial ways without adhering to normative conceptions of what constitutes difference and sameness. The concept of postmigration challenges ideas related to understandings of “integration”, namely that there is an inevitable binary distinction between migrants and non-migrants. This thesis therefore contributes theoretically and methodologically to how categories and concepts of difference and sameness are produced in research and beyond. But foremost, this thesis makes an empirical contribution.

I close in on classical anthropological themes such as kinship, solidarity, humour, and language and bring them into the contemporary postmigration condition to explore how to rethink difference and sameness. One key finding in the thesis concerns the construction of allyship that extends far beyond any binary conviviality between non-migrants and migrants. The most important contribution of this thesis is that it moves beyond the fundamentally cemented idea of problematic integration (and migration) in Sweden by providing alternative narratives, that are often left untold to this taken-for-granted truth.

My project is part of the Forte financed research project: Everyday practices of integration: Negotiating identity through culture, ethnicity and religion, together with Prof. Lisa Åkesson and Prof. Jörgen Hellman.