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Strong links between hip-hop in Chile and Sweden, thesis reveals


Swedish hip-hop artists of Chilean descent have a great deal in common and can benefit considerably from exchanging ideas and experience with their counterparts in Chile. 

Swedish hip-hop artists of Chilean descent have a great deal in common and can benefit considerably from exchanging ideas and experience with their counterparts in Chile. 

Historical events form identity

The military coup that took place in Chile more than 40 years ago still has a major influence on how the artists’ identities are created and re-created. 

This is highlighted by Susan Lindholm in her thesis ‘Remembering Chile’. The basis of the thesis is understanding how the artists make their mark and create their identities from the historical and cultural perspectives that bridge the two countries. 

“The thesis came about when I began listening to hip-hop in Sweden and became interested in the political resistance that could be detected in many of the texts,” said Susan Lindholm. “Several of the artists had Spanish names and their parents had fled from what was - at the time - a military dictatorship in Chile.”

Susan LindholmSusan Lindholm states that her thesis examines the interface between migration and hip-hop. She has interviewed a number of artists in both Sweden and Chile but more specifically she has analysed selected lyrics.

Among others, the groups included were The Latin Kings, Advance Patrol, Hermanos Bernal, Panteras Negras, and the songs featured in the research were in both Swedish and Spanish. 

Her thesis is a cumulative thesis in history that presents a number of results. One is an account of Sweden as a welcoming, compassionate country. Many of the artists’ parents were political refugees from Chile and were received with open arms by Sweden, which demonstrated a considerable degree of solidarity. Sweden was the country in western Europe that received most Chilean refugees. 

Has Swedish society changed?

“It was not just about political events, but also about a welcoming civil society with the Chile Committee and a never-ending debate about solidarity,” Susan continued. “The present day refugee situation is tangible evidence that we are now living in an entirely different society. 

“It is this inclusion,” said Susan Lindholm, “that the artists in Sweden associate with in their identity build-up. At the same time, there are reports of exclusion as many of the artists have grown up in the outer areas of the city and all that entails in terms of marginalisation, multiculturalism and the experience of being someone else.”

She also delves deeper in her search for what shapes the hip-hop artists’ identities in Chile and Sweden. Through the interviews with hip-hop artists in Chile she discovers, for example, that hip-hop was for a long time a subculture that was able to survive in the face of a repressive dictatorship. In Chile they performed in anonymity as opposed to the Swedish/Chilean hip-hop artists who performed openly. A number of artists in Chile avoid referring to the brutal exploits of the Pinochet regime whilst others remember them and this emerges in the thesis.

The thesis also demonstrates the strong, almost interwoven, links between hip-hop artists in Sweden and Chile. Groups that work in Sweden also publish music in Chile. Certain artists have moved back and forth and work in both countries.                                                                                                                                                                
“Ultimately, I’m attempting to show that identity is not firmly rooted and inherited but is in a constant state of transition.”

Text: Helena Smitt

Last updated by Amanda Malmquist