How do representatives of Muslims in Norway navigate between the demands of governments, the media, and their Muslim constituents? How do these tensions influence their decision making and their political positioning? Olav Elgvin, PhD scholar at the Department for Comparative Politics at UiB, will be giving a presentation on this topic based on recent field work.
Kicking off a new semester with IMER lunch seminars, our first seminar this year is building on exciting fieldwork from Bergen. Hilde Danielsen from Uni Research Rokkansenteret is giving a presentation about the symbolic value of birthday parties in contemporary Norway.
Danielsen argues that birthday celebrations have become more than a private family matter, and are increasingly seen as a socially charged question in Norwegian society. Many parents with and without migration background, as well as teachers and other actors, claim that birthday parties have the potential to create social inclusion. They are especially concerned that children with migrant background should celebrate and attend. Celebrating birthdays has seemingly become one of the litmus tests of whether an immigrant individual or an immigrant group is integrated into Norwegian society.
Note the place: Lauritz Meltzers hus (SV-bygget), room 212.
As usual, a light lunch will be served. All are welcome!
It is time for another IMER lunch seminar. This time, it is about a recent event: The remarkable story about how the Islamic Council of Norway was torn into two, after 25 years of existence. Olav Elgvin will be giving a presentation based on recent fieldwork.
In Western Europe, representative Islamic councils have been seen as important policy instruments. By relying on dialogue with representative Islamic councils, it has been assumed that authorities and Muslim minority groups may be able to interact in a better way. But in most European countries, these councils have been highly unstable, with frequent conflicts and splits.
Why have these conflicts occurred? In his presentation, Elgvin will look in detail at the case of the Islamic Council of Norway. Between 1993 and 2017 it functioned as the umbrella organization for most of the mosques in Norway. It was unique in Western Europe in that close to all the mosques and the major Islamic organizations took part. It had maintained dialogue activities with various other life stance communities. It received funding from the state. It had built up a successful halal franchise.
In 2017, all of this changed. Several of the largest member mosques broke out. They lost the funding from the state. Their main partner in the halal franchise cut ties with them. Relations between authorities and Islamic organizations were thrown into disarray. How did all of this happen?
Migration, together with ‘inequality’ and ‘health’, is a prioritised theme in the University of Bergen’s strategic area on Global Challenges. On the 9th of March, an important event will take place for everybody who is interested in this topic. This symposium will profile UiB’s migration research, and explore future possibilities for collaboration across faculties and disciplines.
About the symposium
Migrants and migration are not only part of our lives, but also important drivers of change. Migration transforms the features of states and societies. It changes the lives of migrants, and the lives of people in countries of departure, transit and arrival.
One of the most dramatic transformations we observe today is happening in political systems: migration now shapes the political cleavages on which countries’ political party systems are built.
To some, the changes introduced by migration are not entirely desirable. To others, such changes are welcome. No matter how we conceive it in normative terms, migration is a fact. It is a consequence of changing economic, social, political and environmental conditions.
This symposium brings together the latest research on migration conducted by researchers at different faculties of our university to address these issues. We will explore the different visions for research about the transformative consequences of migration.
The symposium is divided into six sections; on politics, gender, culture, inequality, public spheres, and global health. The symposium ends with a roundtable discussion about how to organise migration research as a transdisciplinary research field at UiB. There will be a 10 minute Q&A at the end of each section.
The symposium is organised by UiB Research Unit on International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER Bergen), in collaboration with Global Challenges. For questions about the acacemic content of the symposium, pease contact prof. Hakan Sicakkan at the Department for Comparative Politics: Hakan.Sicakkan@uib.no. For practical and logistical questions, please contact adviser Tord Rø at the Department of Global Public Health: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full program, with online registration, is available here. We hope you will join us for this exciting event!
In recent years, a large number of Syrian refugees have settled in Europe. In the media, most of the debate concerning these refugees has been about how they impact their host societies. But how does this large Syrian diaspora impact politics in Syria itself?
For this IMER lunch seminar, we will be joined by Amany Selim and Espen Stokke, PhD candidates at sociology and comparative politics at UiB. They both do research projects where they explore the engagement of Syrian diaspora activists, and how these activists try to make a difference in the homeland. With their work on the Syrian case, they are hoping to contribute to the growing body of literature that attempts to bridge social movement theory and diaspora politics.
In the presentation, Selim and Stokke will give a brief overview of the field: What do we know about the activism of the Syrian diaspora? They will also present their own projects, and what they wish to add to the field.
Mahr (the Muslim dower) is regarded as obligatory to Muslim marriages. This means that when a Muslim man marries a Muslim woman, he provides her with a certain financial gift. However, this arrangement is controversial. Does Mahr entail the “sale” of a woman in a Muslim marriage? Because of such concerns, marriage rituals that contain mahr are not approved by the Norwegian state, as they are seen as contravening “Norwegian law and general gender equality principles”.
But does mahr merely entail the “sale” of a woman, or can it serve other purposes as well?
In this seminar, the lived experiences of Norway’s regulation of mahr will be examined. Building on a study of the Iranian diaspora in Norway, Marianne Bøe will explore the forms that mahr can take in contemporary Norwegian society. In her study, Bøe has conducted interviews with members of the Iranian diaspora, and has also studied documents relevant for Norway’s marriage ritual regulation. Does the present regulation of mahr contribute to safeguarding gender equality and the rights of women, or does it have other unintended effects?
The seminar takes place at seminar room 112 at Adm. org, Christies gate 17, on Wednesday 13th of June, from 12.30 to 14.00. A light lunch will be served.
All are welcome!
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”.
Refugees that are granted residency in Norway are temporarily immobilized in their new home municipalities through a combination of regulations. These regulations include the Introduction Act and the government’s policy of refugee dispersal. In what is to be their temporary community over a period usually lasting somewhere between 2-5 years, those settled undergo a process of (re-)qualification, or the introduction program, through which they are to be prepared for life in Norway. For this IMER lunch seminar, Gard Høibjerg from Inland University of Applied Sciences will present data gathered through seven months of ethnographic fieldwork in four rural municipalities. In his fieldwork, Gard followed the daily operations of refugee administration and adult education centers, interviewed the users of these services (i.e. people settled as refugees) and attended a series of meetings and activities organized by the volunteer sector. Based on this fieldwork, Gard will present findings from a paper that is currently under review named ‘We do not use freezers in Syria’: exploring the pursuit of belonging among refugees in a Norwegian village. Here, he offers a theoretical approach to better understand the process of refugee integration through a focus on the mundane activities of everyday life.
A light lunch will be served. All welcome!
Gard Ringen Høibjerg is a PhD-candidate in public innovation at the Inland University of Applied Sciences in Lillehammer. His PhD project aims to analyze refugee integration in rural municipalities in Norway through a service perspective.