Reinventing the antifascist blockade: notes on the spatial politics of Scandinavian antifascism

Authors: Johan Pries*, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Andrés Brink Pinto, Lund University
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: fascism, antifascism, activism, social movements, scandinavia, sweden
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Since the 1980s Sweden has been at the epicentre of both the Scandinavian far right and the resistance to it. For instance, the Nordic Resistance Movement is today among the most profiled neo-nazi groups in Europe and expanding beyond its Swedish origins. A formative period in this history is the early 1990s, which saw the birth of organized antifascist street politics. In this paper we study a series of antifascist blockades of a yearly far right march in the Swedish city Lund. Starting 1991, these blockades stopped the right’s march several consecutive years. This became a rare example of unambiguously successful antifascism used as a template for resistance to neo-nazi marches far beyond its point of origin.
We show that the blockades in Lund were not only a series of successful confrontation between antifascists and the police seeking to disperse it, but also strategically undermined the spatial practices and imaginaries of the far right. The antifascist blockade disrupted the far right marchers’ claims on space in two distinct ways. It continued an existing tradition of openly challenging the far right’s political claim on public space, but also undermined the far right’s claims as violent gangs “controlling” the streets as their turf. Today, antifascist blockades tend to look very different to the 1990s. Yet, the ways of disrupting the far right’s claims on space that the blockades in Lund exemplify continue to be important in contemporary antifascist street politics, even as new generations look for ways of understanding and fighting fascism.

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