Sunday, December 21, 2008

Europe Still Has An Identity Crisis

Riots in Sweden's third largest city, Malmö. Having lived just outside of Malmö for almost a year, I can't say I'm surprised by this. In the course of my education in Lund, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation on immigrant integration from a city planner in Malmö. She talked about the need to find away to integrate the immigrant population with the rest of the city. Rosengård, where these riots are taking place, is a great example of why governments can't do everything. It was built as a kind of state-of-the-art public housing and quickly turned into an immigrant ghetto. The city of Malmö did interesting studies on people's daily travels and found that people living in Rosengård rarely left that part of the city, with the possible exception of going to and from work. The chance for meaningful interactions with native Swedes is remote. This kind of isolation can only spell trouble. It doesn't justify the criminal behaviour. However, I don't see these kinds of riots ending in Europe until Europeans reconcile themselves to immigration in a real way. Sweden has been rightly lauded as having one of the most progressive systems for new immigrants who live in the country. However, this has not translated into integrated immigrant communities. This goes to the very core of European nationalist identity politics and it may take a couple of generations before these kinds of riots are a thing of the past.

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