When I went to Rosengård, a part of Malmö known for its large immigrant population and lately for its regular riots, I wasn't interested in just seeing misery, nor was it my intent to educate people about Rosengård in any way. The former is pointless without a fetish for it, and the latter almost inevitably degenerates to using human suffering as a way for the author to put their own opinion in other people's mouths, all while claiming authenticity and objectivity. Neither was I interested in "giving the people of Rosengård a voice" - if they want something said, they are welcome to say it themselves.
Lately we've had riots in Husby, Stockholm. I was involved in trying to stop those (along with many, many others), and I've finally gotten around to write something about it. It is in many ways a companion piece to this article: Husby Riots
But it is impossible to present anything related to Rosengård without any context or commentary whatsoever. Just by publishing the photos, something is said about Rosengård, just not using words. So I've added my own comments to the photos. They're mine, all mine, with no claim to objectivity or understanding anything about the situation. "Poverty is more than the absence of money" is something I say to people when discussing problems like Rosengård, but rather a set of interlocking vicious circles that trap people. Mapping out those for Rosengård is a full-time job that I simply haven't done.
If it matters, I spent the first 27 years of my life in Husby, Stockholm[a], a suburb that while not as bad as Rosengård, ranks as one of the worse places in Stockholm with many of the same problems as Rosengård - high unemployment, violence and gangs. What I write is therefore colored very much by my own experiences, but as Dostoyevsky wrote, every unhappy family is unhappy in their own way, and there is no guarantee that my experience in Husby 1978-2005 translates to Rosengård 2010.
What about the people? If one is to generalize, the people from the political left view people here as noble savages who just need to be enlightened by Swedish civilization, and the people from the political right view people here through a rifle scope. There's something to be said for both approaches. While there I met and talk with what can be described as the local gang: As soon as they saw me walking around with a camera I was challenged. They thought I was one of those who come to Rosengård to snap a few shots with a very long tele before getting out at Mach 2; I managed to convince them otherwise and we talked through two points:
I have no photo of the people I talked to, because I don't want them to represent Rosengård - they don't. I stated above that they looked like "the local gang" - but they were five people, out of a couple of thousand. The difference between good and bad neighborhoods is in the mix of people. In bad neighborhoods you have more addicts, more anti-social elements, more bad people - but you still have a mix with the same components as in rich neighborhoods where coked up day-traders beat their wives to death with golf trophies. You have the ambitious, the smart, the kind and the just - there's just fewer of them, and they spend their time in better ways than just hanging about. The people I talked to didn't strike me as belonging to any of those categories when I spoke with them, but those qualities do exist in Rosengård.
There used to be a fountain surrounding this sculpture. But since kids would piss in it and older kids would throw shampoo into it, the water was removed and replaced with cement and cobblestones. Of course it is stupid to vandalise a nice fountain, but high-school kids have been pouring shampoo into the fountain in central Helsingborg[b] every year, and sometimes even more often - yet nobody would suggest we simply turn off the water and plug the holes with concrete there. The fountain in Husby Centrum, Stockholm[c], has been shampooed a number of times and is in a poor neighborhood, but is still filled with water, not concrete. It appears to be assumed that those living in Rosengård are acting together in a big conspiracy. Thus the fountain in Rosengård was built with the implicit condition that if anyone of the 10,000+ people there should damage it, then we'll take it away from everyone, because the act of the one is assumed to be implicitly sanctioned by all. It is the "if you can't take care of nice things, then you can't have them" line of reasoning, but it can't reasonably be applied here. If the people of Rosengård had the means and the time to guard the fountain 24/7, and we lived in a society where such a demand could be made of people, then we definitely can demand that the fountain not be touched. But they don't, and we don't, and we can't. The end result is that a few people are allowed to leverage Swedish local government against the majority, because if they just do damage to a good thing, like the fountain, then Swedish government steps in and completes the destruction of the good thing for them.