• The Construction of Equality: Syriac Immigration and the Swedish City
    Jennifer Mack
    University of Minnesota Press, 2017
    Jennifer Mack

Installation of new signage at St. Jacob's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, 2009, Södertälje, Sweden. Courtesy of Jennifer Mack.

The Construction of Equality offers a fresh perspective on the intersection of immigration and European modernist suburbs through a close-grained analysis of Södertälje, a Swedish town on the outskirts of Stockholm. Here, immigrants have been reshaping the urban environment since the late 1960s. Swedish utopian architecture and planning programs (especially the so-called Million Program, which built one-million dwelling units from 1965 to 1974) explicitly emphasized the erasure of difference to promote equality, yet this town displays ample material evidence of its status as the global "capital" of the diasporic Syriac Orthodox Christians. The book examines a series of immigrant-instigated architectural projects and spatial practices to ask how Syriacs have altered the town's built environment in dialogue with design professionals; their projects often require legal approval through planning and building permit processes as well as the knowledge of experienced architects. Here, the nightmare of segregation is already undermined by the realities of an unacknowledged but potent force: urban design from below.

Jennifer Mack is a researcher at the School of Architecture at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University. She combines history, ethnography, and formal analysis to study social change and the built environment. Mack has published work on the architecture of large-scale mosques, the design of mid-twentieth-century youth centers, the politics of landscape in allotment gardens, and the Swedish town center (centrum). Her research projects have received support from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Architecture in Effect, Formas, Forte, the Fulbright US Student Program, and the Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet. She holds a PhD in architecture, urbanism, and anthropology from Harvard University, an MArch and MCP from MIT, and a BA from Wesleyan University.