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No-go zones in Sweden: The infectious communicability of evil

Journal article
Authors Tommaso M. Milani
Published in Language, Culture and Society
Volume 2
Issue 1
Pages 7-39
ISSN 2543-3164
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 7-39
Language en
Keywords banality of evil, racial discourse, immigration, infectious communicability
Subject categories General Language Studies and Linguistics, Media and Communications

Abstract

The focus of this article is on the mundane nastiness of language. Drawing on Arendt’s (1963) banality of evil and Briggs’s (2005) notion of infectious communicability, the article highlights the moral dimensions of political and media discourses that spread a communicable image of Sweden as a country in disarray. I demonstrate that this image is made of two discursive ingredients: the spatial trope of the no-go zone, and the truthiness of its discursive elements, which, through a web of communicable intertextual links, create the illusion of an accurate and coherent account of society. Each of the discursive devices and links are like mycelia in a growing fungus of evil that encourages us not “think from the standpoint of somebody else” (Arendt, 1963: 49), and concomitantly normalises a problematic subjectivity of the threatening migrant, a barbarian at the gates that needs to be excluded from the Swedish future.

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