NOS-HS Grant to workshop project about identity and diversity in Nordic societies

The main objective of this two-year workshop project is to expose and expand current debates on diversity issues and challenges to democratic participation in the Nordic region, by putting the spotlight on “identity politics”, says Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Senior lecturer at Centre for Gender Research and project leader of “Transforming identities”.

regnbue i papir

Photo: Emily, Rainbow Paper Chain People, Creative commons

Together with six interdisciplinary researchers from Finland, Sweden and Denmark, Engebretsen will explore current challenges related to diversity debates and identity politics in the Nordic region – what’s at stake, why and for whom?

What is the background for the project?

–We were interested in exploring emerging pressures on democratic practices and ideologies in the Nordic region, especially as they pertain to a growing critique of minorities and their rights at a time when the political landscape is taking a sharp right turn.

–The Nordic countries are typically known as among the most egalitarian and equal welfare societies in the world, but we are now seeing sharp increases in inequality, and an upsurge in right wing extremist and nationalist ideologies. As a result, minorities are increasingly problematized and dismissed as ‘special interest groups’ that pose a challenge to the majority population and their will and rights, to universal free speech imperatives, and even to democracy itself.  

What is the main objective of the workshop series?

–This two-year project takes the concept of identity politics as a starting point for investigating current challenges, and we will invite academics, activists and artists who work at the variegated intersections of this broad theme today.

–We hope these discussions and exchanges of experience and knowledge will generate some tangible results such as publications as well as new collaborative research projects to build on the insights from these workshops. A dedicated website platform will disseminate information and news, and provide a meeting place for interested parties, is our hope.

Why do you use identity politics as a starting point?

– Identity politics is a term that has come to be the locus of intense recent debates in the Nordic region lately. Our ambition is to address articulations of justice and injustice in these debates, and to inquire into “what it means, politically, to live together, across differences” in the words of Judith Butler. Our vision is to contribute to expand current understandings of the ways that democratic participation and marginalization transform the social and the political, and hopefully provide a platform for further projects and collaborations across the academic, activist, policy and artistic domains.

How many workshops will there be and who can participate?

–There will be three workshops over the next two years. The first will be in Oslo in August. A dedicated webpage will be created for each workshop and Calls for Abstracts, will be published and circulated shortly. We hope to attract the interest of people from different disciplinary backgrounds, and including early career researchers and students as well as mid-career and senior academics, as well as interested people from across activist and policy areas, and the arts.


Principal research participants

  • Mons Bissenbakker, Associate Professor, Department of Nordic studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Mia Liinason, Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies, Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Lene Myong, Professor of Gender Studies, University of Stavanger, Norway
  • Michael Nebeling Petersen, Associate Professor, Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark
  • Antu Sorainen, Docent in Gender Studies and Academy of Finland Fellow, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Olga Sasunkevich, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo and project leader
By Malin Lenita Vik og Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen
Published Jan. 21, 2018 5:27 PM - Last modified Jan. 21, 2018 5:40 PM