Björn Larsson &Carl Johan Erikson

Researchers (2017-2019)

Refuse to Kill – Stories of the Conscientious Objectors

Refuse to Kill – Stories of the Conscientious Objectors investigates a specific phase in Sweden’s recent history through one of the great existential narratives of the human condition; the concept of peace and reconciliation. In this artistic research project we utilise the potential of the large number of experiences and stories from the 35 000 young men who, between 1966 and 1992, made the choice to not enter traditional military service, but instead applied for, and were granted, unarmed civil service.
The conscientious objector movement’s existential issue surrounding the right to refuse to kill relates to both the individual’s freedom and artistic expression in relation to the law – then as well as now. Artists had an important role in the conscientious objector movement; many chose civil service and artists were very active in the public discourse that led to legislative change. The research project wants to learn through the experiences of the conscientious objectors and reconnect to the artists’ role as agents in a contemporary political landscape.


Service book

Funded by the Swedish Research Council.