Tagessays

What’s Happening in Sweden?

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Published on Bella Caledonia, 13 September 2019. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden! — Donald Trump, 18 February 2017 Sweden was long seen as a progressive utopia. Then came waves of immigrants – and the forces of populism at home and abroad. — The New York Times, 10 August 2019 ‘If you get a call from the post office, you tell them we’re...

Negotiating the Surrender

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The place looks like an Italian monastery, all cloistered gardens and red-tiled rooftops. On a bright spring day you can get caught off-guard: stepping out onto the open walkway that links one building to another, you find the air two seasons colder than the view from the windows seemed to promise. We are a long way north of the Alps, in the small lakeside town of Sigtuna, thirty miles outside...

After We Stop Pretending

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The setting could so easily seduce you. Painted wooden houses line three sides of a square of grass: the red house, the white house and the low wooden barn between them where the bunk rooms are. On the fourth side, the slope falls away, past the village library, past the station house and the railway tracks to the lake. A strip of an island a hundred yards offshore, then miles of water stretching...

Ten Years on a Mountain: A Farewell

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There’s an old mythic way of thinking about the journey of a life which says that there are three times you will pass through, each with its own colour. You set out in the red time of youth, its raw energy not yet tempered by experience – and with luck, you are headed for the white time of wisdom. But whichever route you find yourself taking, the road that leads from red to white will pass...

Three Seasons With CEMUS

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Published in The CEMUS Diaries, a series to mark the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Environment & Development Studies at Uppsala University. It’s early spring. I’m taking a language course for immigrants with a higher education. Eight years is the average time it takes before an immigrant to Sweden gets to work in a job that matches their professional qualifications: this course was...

Childish Things

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It was September and I hadn’t seen Ruben all summer, but there he was, the same as ever, gangly and lounging, his hair cropped almost to the bone, his eyes alert; a kid from the wrong side of town who turns the skills his childhood taught him into art.

How Climate Change Arrives

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The sun is out, the sky is a cloudless blue and the kids around me on the train are talking football. On mornings like this, it’s hard to hold onto the sense that we are in trouble, let alone that this trouble might be deep enough to derail our whole way of living.

The Fall of the Murdoch Wall

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I didn’t make it to bed on election night, so it took till Saturday morning to have the experience of waking up in this new reality. All day, I felt a lightness, like the laws of physics just changed slightly — and scrolling through Facebook, I see others trying to make sense of this strange sensation. Mixed in among these posts, though, there are others that boil down to, ‘Will you all stop...

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