Active citizenship in culturally and religiously diverse societies.
In debates on citizenship in Europe, the need for active participation among citizens is increasingly stressed. But do normative ideas of what active citizenship is, reflect people’s lived experiences in present-day Europe? While the low electoral participation of young people is often highlighted as an indication of reduced civic participation, various studies show increased social media use leads to increased political and social debates and mobilization. And while politicians often lament the lack of civil-political engagement among immigrants particularly, many new citizens volunteer, work as activists, take up political causes, or set up associations in both their countries of residence and origin. In Europe’s culturally and religiously diverse societies, citizens have different frameworks for how they act and interact with their close and distant surroundings. The ACT project studies this diversified citizen participation through empirical data collection on (local, national and transnational) active citizenship in neighbourhoods in Oslo and Copenhagen.
Cindy Horst is Research Director and Research Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Her current research interests include: mobility in conflict; diaspora; humanitarianism; refugee protection; (transnational) civic engagement; and theorizing on social transformation.
The Play of Colors: Staging Multiculturalism in Norway
Fargespill (lit. “play of colors”) is a series of musical performances in Norway that have been staged from 2004 to the present. Each performance consists of a sequence of musical and dance numbers performed by children from different minority and immigrant groups, many of whom came to Norway as refugees, together with white Norwegian children. The songs and choreographies represent the home countries of the children who perform, and have included for example music and dance from Somalia, Myanmar (Burma), Rwanda, Kurdistan, and Eritrea, combined together with Norwegian folk music in often elaborate production numbers with colorful costumes and complex musical arrangements. While the specific musical numbers used and cast members change from performance to performance, the concept remains the same – a representation of ethnic, racial and cultural diversity in Norway staged through the voices and bodies of the children on stage. From its beginnings as an cultural initiative in the city of Bergen, Fargespill has gained increasing national attention within Norway, leading to performances in other cities such as Oslo and Trondheim.
Using as a starting point recent theorizations of multiculturalism and critical discussions of race and racism in Norway, this paper analyzes the Fargespill performances. The paper also uses Deleuze and Guattari’s twin concepts of majoritarian/minoritarian to interpret Fargespill’s representations. While the public face of Fargespill is that of children of various immigrant and minority groups, behind the scenes the performances are actually conceptualized, scripted, and extensively stage-managed primarily by majority (white) Norwegian adult arts professionals. The paper especially explores the question of whether the representations of Fargespill constitute a positive contribution to creating a climate for embracing difference in Norway, or whether Fargespill is better understood as a reassuring story white Norwegians tell themselves about multicultural Norway that, at best, naively sidesteps ongoing problems of racism and intolerance toward minorities and immigrants endemic in contemporary Norwegian society. Fargespill’s use of the performing bodies of refugee children to tell its story about a supposed Norwegian multicultural utopia can be seen as especially problematic in the context of the Norwegian government’s recent practices regarding the forced return of long-dwelling child asylum seekers to their country of origin.
Thomas Solomon is Professor in the Grieg Academy-Department of Music at the University of Bergen. He has previously taught at New York University, University of Minnesota, and Istanbul Technical University. He has done field research in highland Bolivia on musical imaginations of ecology, place and identity, and in Istanbul on place and identity in Turkish hip-hop. His publications include articles in the journals Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Yearbook for Traditional Music, as well numerous chapters in edited volumes on topics such as music and indigeneity in highland Bolivia, orientalism and gender in Turkish popular music, music and postcolonialism, and music and race in American cartoons. He is also editor of Music and Identity in Norway and Beyond: Essays Commemorating Edvard Grieg the Humanist (2011) and African Musics in Context: Institutions, Culture, Identity (2015), and co-editor of Ethnomusicology in East Africa: Perspectives from Uganda and Beyond (2012).
A light lunch, coffe and tea will be served.
Political protest is an increasingly frequent occurrence in urban public space. During protests, urban space transforms according to special regulatory circumstances abrogating normal laws. Territorial control is central to securitization of urban space. Protest is disruptive of urban spatial relations, so law enforcement considers it a threat conflated with crime and terrorism. The means to achieve spatial control vary by mode of protest policing, which are products of dominant socioeconomic models of society, influenced by local policing culture and historical context. Spatial tactics of control are outgrowths of the militarization of policing and the securitization of urban space. Protest policing innovation under neoliberalism has led to new modes of tactical spatial engagement, working to strategically nullify political dissent through manipulation of urban space. This has significant consequences for urban design and emergent urban form, particularly through the professional practice of CPTED, or crime prevention through environmental design.
Hans Sagan holds a Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of California – Berkeley. His recent work investigates the role of urban space in protest policing. He teaches architecture and urbanism at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
CANCELED More infoermation about eventual repacements will be available sook
Child welfare services in Norway are currently internationally debated. A key question relates to multicultural challenges, whether services are sensitive to cultural differences and ethnic minority families specific challenges. As part of a larger research project, we interviewed parents with refugee backgrounds about their experiences of contact with child welfare services in Norway. Despite parents describing both positive and negative experiences, and trust as well as distrust, we found that fear of the child welfare services was a central theme. The paper will focus on the representations of the child welfare services that fear was related to. The theoretical framework will be Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser’s understandings of recognition and social justice.
Marte Knag Fylkesnes is a PhD student, working at the HEMIL-center UiB. In her thesis she discusses multicultural challenges in relation to the Norwegian child welfare system, from the perspective of service users.
Predatory security: Reshaping the city and the state in Mozambique
Notions and practices of security colonise both state and urban contexts across Africa. Arguably, these notions and practices are also integral to wider global political formations where urban formations in Africa are often cast as pre-figuring the shape of future global cities more generally. Based on fieldworks in the Mozambican cities of Maputo and Chimoio, this paper sees security there as related to violent crime and capital accumulation in ways that undermine policy-oriented representations of security provision as solely undertaken by state police supplemented by neoliberal assemblages of security firms. Rather, and more specifically, the paper shows how security is not only subjected to a spatialized logic of race and social control but also renders violence – in all its forms – central to its exercise and cosmologies. This point will be emphasised by analysing how various forms of policing must be understood beyond the security-development nexus. These forms of policing increasingly involve a gradual emergence of what I call ‘predatory security’ that is central to violent modes of capital accumulation that shape African urban landscapes as well as define the contours of the state. The paper suggests that as a configuration of accumulative violence such predatory security has consequences for how we should approach calls for rights to the city as well as the state in urban African orders and beyond.
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, associate professor, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, has researched issues such as state formation, violence, poverty and rural-urban connections in Mozambique since 1998. Bertelsen has published extensively internationally and is publishing the monograph Violent Becomings: State Formation, Culture and Power in Mozambique (Berghahn Books, 2016) and has co-edited the anthologies Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval (with Bruce Kapferer, Berghahn Books,  2012) and Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania, ca. 1850 to 1950 (with Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland, Berghahn Books, 2015).
The populist radical right has emerged as the spearhead of a larger renationalization process directed against positions of global and European integration. Based on anthropological fieldwork in the postindustrial towns of Doncaster (South Yorkshire, UK) and the Hungarian town of Ózd in 2015, the paper examines the various historical, material and socio-economic factors in the rise of Ukip (United Kindom Independence Party) and the extreme right-wing Jobbik (Movement for a Better Future).
In their politics of fear, minorities and migrants are marked as posing cultural-religious threats to communal harmony and the nation-state. Through participant observation and interviews with Ukip and Jobbik politicians and supporters, the paper examines how knowledge about ‘threatening others’ is produced, circulated and contested.
Dr. Cathrine Thorleifsson holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2012). Her chief theoretical interests lie in anthropological approaches to the study of nationalism, migration, borders and xenophobia.
Welcome! A light lunch will be served.
About the Seminar series:
Debating the current refugee crisis in Europe
The IMER Bergen Seminar series for the spring of 2016 will discuss a wide range of responses in the wake of the current migration crisis. How can the theoretical and empirical research currently being conducted on migration, ethnic relations, peace and conflict contribute to understanding the multi-faceted landscape of politics, boundaries and everyday lives of the refugee crisis?
The city of Bergen has become increasingly ethnically diverse. Refugees have settled here, and labor migrants have come here to seek work. How does this impact the city of Bergen? What are the benefits, and what are the challenges? How does the municipality of Bergen manage this increasing diversity?
In this presentation, Sølve Sætre from the municipality of Bergen will present how the city of Bergen attempts to approach diversity. For several years, Sætre has been the main responsible for developing diversity policy at the municipality. Among other things, he has initiated a dialogue project together with the mosques in Bergen, he has been working with issues related to Roma migrants, and written the plans for diversity and inclusion. How has this approach worked?
The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the 2nd floor at Sampol, Christies gate 15, from 12.30 to 14.00 on Thursday 20th of September. A light lunch will be served at the seminar.
If a LGBTI person can “stay in the closet” in the country of origin, should she then be denied asylum as a refugee? This is currently a thorny issue for several European countries, when facing asylum seekers who apply for protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For this IMER seminar, Andrea Grønningsæter from the faculty of law at UiB will discuss how this is currently practiced in Norway.
Research has shown that that LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people) often face specific legal and procedural challenges when applying for refugee status. In a number of jurisdictions, including Norway, LGBTI asylum seekers have been denied refugee status with reference to the fact that they can abstain from behavior that may result in a risk of persecution. A gay person can live as a gay within the confines of the home, for example, but not on the streets – and may thus not be granted protection. It is then concluded that the requirement in refugee law of establishing a ‘well-founded fear’ of persecution is not fulfilled, because concealment will mean that the asylum seeker is not revealed to potential persecutors.
In 2012 the Norwegian Supreme Court considered the right to refugee status based on sexual orientation (Rt. 2012 s. 494). In the court’s decision it was stated that a gay person may not be required to hide their sexual orientation in the country of origin to avoid persecution. In cases where it is concluded that the asylum seeker will choose to conceal their sexual orientation, the court established a step-by-step approach for assessing whether the asylum seeker is entitled to refugee status.
For her PhD project, Grønningsæter looks at how the approach that was established by the Supreme Court in 2012 for assessing asylum cases based on sexual orientation or gender identity is interpreted by the courts and the immigration authorities. She explores how the courts and immigration authorities establish the asylum seeker’s reason for concealment, as well as how concepts such as ‘being open’ or ‘discreet’ about sexual orientation or gender identity is understood.
A light lunch will be served. Welcome!
Andrea Grønningsæter is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Bergen University.
In current debates about multicultural societies, ideas about active citizenship sometimes play a part. The increase of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in Scandinavia has led to integration and naturalization policies that focus on social cohesion and stress the need for a shared set of values, identities and commitment to active participation in society. What kind of engagement is seen as good and legitimate, and what kinds of engagement are seen as illegitimate? For this IMER lunch seminar, Noor Jdid from PRIO and SKOK will present insights from her PhD project, which explores active citizenship in Norway and Denmark, among both minority and majority populations. She draws on ethnographic fieldwork in five different neighbourhoods in Oslo (Tøyen, Holmlia, Røa) and Copenhagen (Østerbro, Sydhavn), consisting of 69 life history interviews and 13 focus group discussions with residents of these neighbourhoods, as well as expert interviews and participatory observation. The analysis shows that the intersection of place, gender, class and ethnicity often shapes citizens’ understandings of their own civic engagement. When determining what ‘counts’ as a legitimate and valuable contribution to society, the research participants drew gendered and racialized discursive boundaries between the public and the private spheres.
Noor Jdid is a Doctoral Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Center for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK). Her PhD is part of the larger SAMKUL-project “Active Citizenship in Religiously and Culturally Diverse Societies”.