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Project: A culture of honor and Islam in Swedish public discourse

The project is a computer-assisted text analysis of continuity and change in Swedish public discourse on the relation between a culture of honor and Islam during the past 20 years.

Project information

Project manager
Jonas Svensson
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
1 Jan 2020 – 31 Dec 2021
The study of Religion (Department of Cultural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities)

More about the project

The project concerns the public Swedish discourse on the relationship between Islam and a culture of honor, which can be traced back to 2002 and the murder of Fadime Sahindal. Using computer-assisted methods for the collection and analysis of large sets of textual data and so-called explorative programming, the project searches for patterns in this discourse, and changes in such patterns over time. The material consists of texts such as printed press material, academic publications, governmental inquires and information material from governmental agencies and NGOs.

In the project, the focus is on contexts where Islam - in terms of specific beliefs, practices and forms of social organisation - is discussed in terms of a cause-and-effect relationship to different aspects of the larger complex of a culture of honor. This includes both contexts where actors within the discourse reject any such relationship, and context where actors deem such a relationship to be self-evident.

Preliminary results indicate that the former position is the dominant one in the discourse over time. At the same time, these results also indicate a possible change during the last five years (since 2016), particularly concerning terminology, and the emergence of the concept of "hedersförtryck" (honor oppression).

Currently, the project investigates a possible increased connection in the discourse between Islam (or rather some beliefs and practices within Islamic tradition) and a culture of honor as a result of this change. The assumption tested against the material is that while there is a continuing association made, terminology-wise, between "honor" and groups' control particularly over young women's sexuality, the word "honor" has lost some of its specific meaning in the discourse. While such control over the behaviour of individuals previously has been explained with reference to the motive of safeguarding a collective "honor", this particular motive has become less evident. This has created increased space in the discourse to present alternative motives to "honor oppression" besides "honor", including such that rest on conservative interpretations of religion (in practice Islam) in the context of sexuality and gender. This, in turn, raises questions on the limits of freedom of religion in relation to dominant social norms.


The project is part of:
Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies
Cluster for Migration, Citizenship and Belonging