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  • “We’re Not All Thugs in the East”: The Racial Politics of Place in Afro-Finnish Hip Hop

    Jasmine Kelekay

    Chapter from the book: Hoegaerts, J et al. 2022. Finnishness, Whiteness and Coloniality.


    This chapter explores the discursive construction of East Helsinki as a racialized and classed space in the Finnish cultural imaginary through an analysis of Afro-Finnish hip hop. Based on a critical discursive analysis of four songs by the rapper Prinssi Jusuf and the duo Seksikäs-Suklaa & Dosdela, I examine how rappers from East Helsinki challenge and negotiate the stigma associated with the district via their music. Using Loïc Wacquant’s (2009) framework of territorial stigmatization, I show the ways in which these rappers deploy different discourses about East Helsinki that resist the stigmatization of East Helsinki, while also creating new discourses that transcend efforts to mitigate stigma. I argue that in addition to challenging the mainstream media-produced stereotypes about East Helsinki as a dilapidated and crime-ridden problem area, the rappers also “talk back” by producing counter-discourses about “the East” as a sphere of belonging, home and freedom, juxtaposed against broader experiences of exclusion. East Helsinki’s reputation as the home of immigrants and low-income residents is also claimed as a point of pride, as a source of collective identification and as a sphere of belonging.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Kelekay, J. 2022. “We’re Not All Thugs in the East”: The Racial Politics of Place in Afro-Finnish Hip Hop. In: Hoegaerts, J et al (eds.), Finnishness, Whiteness and Coloniality. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-17-9

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Additional Information

    Published on Aug. 22, 2022


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