Book Chapter


The experience of transnational migration often occasions an increased awareness of the coupling of language and identity, as migrants must represent themselves in unfamiliar tongues no less than unfamiliar spaces. Since the 1980s, a body of literature in Swedish has emerged that is focused on this struggle to understand and present the self in a new language. Increased attention to these kinds of ‘post-ethnic identity’ in Scandinavia at the turn of the millennium has focused critical energy on these literary figurations of language change. A central theme in the authorships of Swedish writers such as Theodore Kallifatides is the need to express one’s own identity in the context of a new language. This struggle takes the form of maintain internal cohesion – as well as the ability to express that coherence to others. Throughout many of these narratives, questions of power, discrimination and inequality lurk: reminders of the centrality of language in the public sphere, and the barriers to national belonging for those do not yet master it.