isagel: Skier Charlotte Kalla, having just won Olympic gold, smiling and waving. The palms of her mittens are Swedish flags. (swedishness (charlotte kalla))
isagel ([personal profile] isagel) wrote in [personal profile] eruthros 2010-05-08 12:16 pm (UTC)

Roaches thankfully don't like the Swedish climate, so we don't have them. Which means that the narrative about them is linked to narratives about exotic/poor/non-white foreign places where scary things live. Mice I don't think is really associated with any stigma: you're unlikely to ever see them in the city, but if you live in the countryside, their appearance is random and un-linked to class or hygiene. Rats are really bad, but not common, either. And I think mostly linked to garbage placed out-doors, which stigmatizes local authorities or businesses rather than individuals. Head-lice, though, that's a stigma (been there, done that), but I get the feeling that's changing for the better - certainly my boss talks about head-lice epidemics at her son's school very freely.

Anyway, I do think that the kind of pests that are seen as really bad here are the ones we don't ourselves have as a national collective, because of the cold climate, and so they are markers of unknown, threatening, incomprehensible, inferior far-away other cultures, where people less fortunate (and for the most part darker) than we live. Be that Calcutta or Marrakesh or slums in New York. Sometimes it's an orientalist narrative, sometimes it's a narrative about how, say, the American social system is a failure since obviously the state can't protect its citizens from living in rat- and cockroach-infested poverty, whereas in Sweden we are safe from dirty giant bugs and filthy disease-spreading rodents because our social system is the greatest in the world, hah! We are as a nation insufferably smug about these things, and like to think that everyone else is doing it wrong and should be pitied.

Hm, that was interesting, thinking that through.

Facebook is a tool of the devil. I am still refusing to touch it with a ten foot pole.

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