Dystopian Sweden’s secret name for Malmo was ‘The Darkness’

Sweden has reclaimed six of the seven names it gave to its fledgling industrial capital of Malmo during the 1960s. Sweden renames from time to time, and in 2013 the Swedish Institute, the country’s language and cultural authority, decided to give Sweden a fresh look. Having once launched a “sculptural trend” in the textile industry that had spawned sculpy pants and blouses as ingenious as they were cringeworthy, the nation felt it was time to have a rational name for a mordant industrial metropolis by the Baltic Sea. Sweden chose to present a dry and serious present to Malmo, one of the most socially divided cities in the world.

The summer of 2016 presented the trend. “The data tell us that during 2018, we will have over 100 Swedish high school grads planning on immigrating to Sweden,” Sara Karlsson, a journalist with the Swedish Institute, told the Swedish radio program, Narm. “That of course will mean that the almost 20 percent of unemployed young people in Malmo will disappear. And that is something we definitely need to think about.” Karlsson said it was not surprising that Stefan Johansson, an established activist and comedian, was the person chosen to organize a Swedish Institute promotion campaign for the new name. “I was interested as a child to find out what the name Malmo should be,” he said. “I considered many choices but the name of Malmo came back with the highest number of votes.”

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