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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 13, 2019

Too Dark to Support the Lions, But Light Enough for the Frontlines”: Negotiating Race, Place, and Nation in Afro-Finnish Hip Hop

  • Jasmine Linnea Kelekay EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


In this article, I examine cultural production as an avenue for mapping African diasporic identities and racialised experiences in Finland. Hip hop culture has long acted as a lingua franca for the African diaspora and has been central in the development of collective identities among second-generation European youth of colour. Prior to the 2010s, the landscape of Finnish hip hop was largely white with little engagement with race or hip hop’s roots as a Black American cultural form. This status quo was disrupted by the rise of Afro-Finnish rappers. Since gaining mainstream visibility, they have catapulted into the national consciousness with music that reclaims the language of racial and ethnic identities, interrogates assumptions about national belonging, and represents the lived experiences of first-generation Black/Afro-Finnish men. Approaching hip hop as a resource for resisting normative Whiteness and carving out space for Black/African diasporic collectivities in the Finnish cultural and political imaginary, I show how Afro-Finnish rappers articulate and navigate Blackness in relation to identity, racism, and national belonging in Finland. In doing so, I emphasise the tensions between racial, ethnic, and cultural hybridity, on the one hand, and the rigidity of Finnish Whiteness and national exclusion, on the other.

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Received: 2018-08-06
Accepted: 2018-11-28
Published Online: 2019-05-13
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Jasmine Linnea Kelekay, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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