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Lilla Hjärtats två ansikten: En diskursanalys av debatten om en barnboksfigur
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013).
2015 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
The two faces of "Lilla HJärtat" : A discourse analysis of the debate on a children's book character (English)
Abstract [en]

In the autumn of 2012 the fictional character “Lilla Hjärtat” created by the Swedish author

and illustrator Stina Wirsén, became a much-discussed topic in Swedish media. This

following the premiere of the children’s film Liten Skär och alla små brokiga”.

Stina Wirsén is an established and well-acclaimed name in children’s literature. “Lilla

Hjärtat”, a jet-black doll, had become one of many popular characters in her books. However,

two years later at the time of the film release, social media picked up on the idea that “Lilla

Hjärtat” resembled a racist stereotype, a so-called picaninny or a blackface.

According to Wirsén, her intention was to deflate an outdated stereotype and refill it with a

new and positive meaning. The purpose was to offer children of all skin colours and all

backgrounds an empowering role model to identify with. Those who were opposed argued

that using a racist stereotype in a children’s book or film was inappropriate and harmful. On

the other hand, those in favour did not view the character as racist and believed it would

contribute to openness and diversity.

The purpose of the thesis is to make an analysis of the debate and the arguments that were

presented. As a result I could find two discourses, one that argued against “Lilla Hjärtat”, and

one that argued that “Lilla Hjärtat” was a positive character. In the discourse against Lilla

Hjärtat, debaters maintained that small children were unable to distinguish between the

different meanings of stereotypical pictures, and also that a privileged white person does not

have the interpretative prerogative to change a stereotypical image that has been

discriminating black people for generations. In the other discourse, debaters meant that the

character could be an important and strong role model for young dark-skinned children. They

also discussed that the real problem was that there were so few characters of children of other nationalities in children’s literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 32 p.
Keyword [sv]
Lilla Hjärtat, debatt, stereotyp, barnlitteratur, barnboksfigur, blackface, mångfald
National Category
Humanities Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-36574OAI: diva2:824030
Subject / course
Cultural studies
Educational program
Cultural studies, 180 hp
Available from: 2015-06-26 Created: 2015-06-19 Last updated: 2015-06-26Bibliographically approved

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