I guest blog on “the philosopher’s cocoon” about what it’s like to be a philosopher in Sweden, as part of their series about working as a philosopher in different countries outside of the Anglophone west.
Helen de Cruz, who asked me to write this post, told me to begin with some general facts about Sweden. She said that obviously, people can google all this stuff, but in practice, they won’t. Once I got around to putting together a factual paragraph, it ended up being not just about Sweden in general, but northern Sweden in particular.
It’s funny how I lived in southern Sweden for more than forty years without thinking of myself as a southerner. I could think of myself as a former country girl turned city dweller, but from the perspective of someone who’s always lived there, southern Sweden isn’t really a special part of the country, just the “regular” part of Sweden. It’s possible that I still wouldn’t have thought that way if I’d lived in the actual city of Umeå, which has such a large influx of people, but now I live in tiny Hörnefors, and am very much an immigrant southerner.
I wrote a few lines about the Sami and Sami oppression too. This is something I’ve more and more come to realize – how very little you learn about this as a majority Swede unless you actively search out information.
As I write towards the end of the post, I’m so grateful for living in a country where university is free and we have generous student loans, enabling even someone like me to pursue higher education. However, the kind of welfare society and generous public health system we had a couple of decades ago also played an important part in my possibility to have this career despite all my mental problems – but that obviously falls outside the topic of the blog post.