During the last decades, development discourse has taken a neo-liberal turn. Parallel to this, the discourse of social science has become more oriented to matters of individual agency. Within the sociological and anthropological literature on development, this emphasis on individual agency is often expressed in terms of an explicit statement taken by the author that s/he wishes to correct an earlier (ethically inferior) emphasis on structure that is assumed to imply that the concerned people are passive victims. Problematising this ethics of scientific writing, this paper will look at various discourses in which the concept of victimhood is used, seeing claims and disclaimers of victimhood as themselves being expressions of agency in a contestation over accountability, responsibility, recognition and possible indemnification or blame.
In post-war Sweden, overt demonstrations of political nationalism have been considered bad taste. In middle-class culture, the construction and emotional charging of Swedishness have instead taken place in terms of an idiom of love for nature. Conceptions of freedom and equality are by this idiom tied up with symbolic references to childhood and to the flora of forests and meadows. The Swedish 'Every Man's Law' regulating access to flowers and berries and mobility in the natural landscape in this context comes to stand as a central national symbol.