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2013 Joukowsky Dissertation Prize Profile: Sounds of Swedish Nationalism

May 20, 2013
Benjamin Teitelbaum

“The nationalists were wanting to change their image from rowdy hooligan skinheads into being more proper people who really just love Sweden and Swedishness.”

Benjamin Teitelbaum spent almost two years interviewing and getting to know members of the Swedish nationalist movement, sometimes finding himself in scary situations in his quest to understand the subculture's use of music. It was that perseverance in part that won him the 2013 Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Humanities for his study “Come Hear Our Merry Song:” Shifts in the Sound of Contemporary Swedish Radical Nationalism.

In the midst of his dissertation fieldwork, Benjamin Teitelbaum found himself in a scary situation. He was headed out of a Stockholm subway station for an interview when he got a text message: “You’re being followed, so don’t try anything.” Teitelbaum was meeting a member of the Swedish nationalist movement, and his interviewee, no stranger to threats from anarchists and other left-wing extremists, had his own safety in mind when he sent out the text. It was a moment that left Teitelbaum, who had been previously undeterred by more overt threats of violence at skinhead rallies and concerts he attended as part of his fieldwork, questioning for the first time whether he should continue with the project.

Ultimately, Teitelbaum went to the interview. “It was the most tense first meeting I ever had, but it ended up being very productive and we got along quite well actually.”

Read more of Courtney Coelho's article on Teitelbaum's research and prize winning dissertation.