Navigating the Radar: Descendants of Polish Migrants and Racialized Social Landscapes in Sweden



This article takes interest in descendants of white migrants in Sweden and their experiences of racialization. Although research on descendants in this category is rare, they are sometimes assumed to be unproblematically integrated into Swedish whiteness. The article contributes with an empirically based investigation of the subject by analysing in-depth interviews with an up till now almost non-researched group: people who grew up with Polish parents in Sweden. Inspired by critical race- and whiteness studies, it explores how they express being racialized, how the norms of Swedish whiteness surface in their narrations and how they negotiate these norms. The article makes visible a Swedish version of whiteness that requires on the one hand possession of materialized, physical whiteness, and on the other hand performative abilities, performative whiteness. It shows how these whiteness norms works for people in the special position of descendants to white migrants and that they–in contrast to their migrant parents–possess both these levels of whiteness. Still, they navigate a radar that could make them involuntarily visible and question their inclusion into Swedish whiteness. These results indicate that the Swedish version of whiteness is narrow and also raises questions regarding its change over time.


Descendants of Polish migrantsSecond generationRacializationWhitenessSweden
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 65–79
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.26
  • Submitted on 16 Mar 2020
  • Accepted on 3 Sep 2020
  • Published on 22 Mar 2021
  • Peer Reviewed