First Spring Popular Seminar with the Swedish Church – Uppsala University RESPOND

On 31 January 2019, our RESPOND team at Uppsala University hosted its first popular seminar of the Spring semester with about 20 participants. Together with members from the Swedish Church, Uppsala Municipality, NGO representatives, and PhD students, the evening included both formal and informal discussions about the role of different entities in the process of integrating asylum seekers and refugees in Sweden.

 First, there was a presentation by Oscar Larsson, on the relationship between the municipalities and their role in facilitating the cultural integration of refugees in their community. Larsson is postdoc researcher at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. His latest publication: Responsibilization in contemporary Swedish crisis management: Expanding 'barelife' biopolitics through exceptionalism and neoliberal governmentality in Critical Policy Studies (Online, OA)

 The conclusion of his research thus far was that the municipalities, although offering activities such as language cafes, was that these efforts do not go far enough. The presentation was then open to discussion and questions, which was constructive and engaging.

Secondly, there was a presentation by Mary Wehbeh, project leader for “Vänskapsförmedlingen” (Promoting Friendship) at the Swedish Church in Uppsala, on the activities that they provide as well as their successes with their programs. The programs put on by the Swedish Church ranges from language cafes, buddy programs, cooking exchange classes, as well as others. It was also highlighted during the presentation, the importance of not only teaching about Swedish culture, but also give the opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees to share their culture, such as the case for the cooking exchange classes. Those who participated in the programs put on by the Swedish Church have reported high levels of satisfaction.

The evening was then rounded off with a less formal discussion accompanied by some wine and snacks. We had a wonderful time hosting everyone and for the lively discussions, thank you to all who participated!