Cecilia Gärding

Women with minority backgrounds do not tell their life stories themselves in our cultural arena, where 95 % of all filmmakers are men. In general, all of our cultural artforms are dominated by men with ethnic Swedish background.

In 2009, together with 25 other Afroswedish young people, Cecilia wrote the first book (about being Afroswedish. This book is the first to tackle the issues of migration, Swedish slave history and discrimination from a postcolonial perspective. Based on this book, Gärding composed Sweden´s first hip-hop opera, ‘Folkoperan Remixed’ (2011), combining both classical and hip-hop music. Furthermore, Cecilia made ‘We are Like Oranges’ (2012), the first feature film that touches on the Swedish slave trade, the race biological institute and hate crime against Afroswedes. The film marks the first time in Swedish film history that an Afroswedish man plays the main character without being given a criminal back story. It was the only Swedish film screened at the Cairo International Film Festival 2012, and is now is used in Swedish schools with the support of UN-Sweden.

Gärding continues to work against racism and is currently writing a book(within the project), The Cultural Heritage Agents, about the diversity in Swedish cultural art. She believes this is a way to show how minority groups and other cultures have contributed to the Swedish cultural scene. Gärding has also developed the term ‘the 25% rule’ to create inclusion and representation in the cultural scene based on the fact that (approximately)25% of Sweden´s population consists of international and national minorities. In general, they are not represented in many cultural artforms as cultural consumers, cultural actors or cultural professionals.

Gärding’s drive, passion and courage have also earned her the appointment as the Swedish Ambassador for ADYNE – the African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe – where she has coined the term ‘Afropeaneurship’ to enhance entrepreneurship based on green economy and social rights within the African population in Europe.