Real Humans?

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According to the Swedish science fiction TV series Äkta människor (Real Humans, SVT and Matador film 2012-2014), humanoid robots called “hubots” are replacing the human workforce in care work and assembly line industries. Against the backdrop of current debates about immigration and citizenship in the Nordic countries, this article does a close, contextual reading of the series, exploring how the hubots influence work and family life. We are particularly interested in how hubots tie in with the cultural circulation of affect in relation to Otherness and how responses towards the “not-quite” human or dehumanized Other are negotiated in present-day Nordic cultural imaginaries. What kinds of affects are at stake in how Äkta människor takes up and interacts with debates about immigrant workers and the “not-quite” human? To answer these questions, the article develops the notion of “affective imaginaries” as an analytical tool for understanding the exchange between popular culture and political debate.

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