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The ideologisation of cultural heritage continues

The ideologisation of cultural heritage
Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kuhnke, 2015. Photo: Eva Fadeel (CC BY 2.0)

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of safeguarding the freedom of culture and heritage and independence from meddlesome politicians. But what really happens behind the scenes?

Culture Minister Alice Bah Kunhke (MP) has herself stated that she is strongly opposed to any political control of culture. But what you say and what you do sometimes don't quite add up.

The Minister of Culture recently appointed the "democracy agent" Barakat Ghebrehawariat as National Museum the Board of Trustees, whose task is to advise the head of the authority and to influence the development of the National Museum.

In his other time, Barakat bills municipalities and other taxpayer-funded organizations for lectures and advice on "white supremacy," "racialization," and what it's "okay" to say when talking about diversity and migration - as he puts it on his website. Last year In 2016, his company Demokrateam AB received SEK 522,000.

He calls his method of talking "democratic". I think the word he's really looking for is orwellska.

At the risk of misjudging Barakat based on a quick first impression, it certainly looks like this "democracy agent's" world of thought happens to be entirely in line with the diversity ideology of the Minister of Culture's own party.

A party that in its report "Culture - the fourth welfare area" argues that "the power over history is the power over the future". The Green Party's conclusion is that culture should be politicised before anyone else (read the Alliance or the Sweden Democrats) does, that Jacob Sidenvall wrote about last year.

Given the way Barakat expresses himself on instagram below, in a post tagged with #diversity and #blackexcellence (translated: #excellence), he also seems to see it as his main task in the Transparency Council to ensure that identity politics also makes an impact on the National Museum's activities:

Ola Wong har gjort en hedervärd insats där han har beskrivit hur regeringen använder museer för egna politiska mål, uppföljt av PJ Anders Linder i Axxess who ask themselves hur länge oppositionen tänker låta regeringen ideologisera kulturarvet i lugn och ro. Nu tycks det vara Nationalmuséets tur att få sig en dos identitetspolitiskt trams.

It is a worrying development in a supposedly free country like Sweden that our culture and heritage is increasingly controlled by ideological pointers. It is a development that must be resisted and turned in the opposite direction.

A cultural sector that shares a bed with the state, or that is imbued with a single ideology, is not free. Indeed, one might ask whether culture can ever be called free when people forced pay for it whether they want to or not.

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