Diversity in Scandinavia roundtable

We had an event last night where myself, three students and another faculty member, got together to discuss the myth of Scandinavian homogeneity. I talked about the Viking Age as a time of diverse and fluid identities. My colleague emphasized the continual indigenous presence, through the Saami and other non-hegemonic ethnic groups. The students however were more interested in the present situation, where immigrants feel marginalized. One discussed Islamaphobia, the other her experience as an Ethiopian immigrant in Norway, and the third how Norwegians exclude migrants on many levels, including by presuming the Norwegian perspective on the outdoors and outdoor activities is superior and ought to be adopted by all immigrants, along with the language and politics and food, etc. Basically, the efforts to erase difference through "integration." We discussed how that has its origins in the national romantic period, when it was in politicians' best interest to pretend they ruled over a natural subset of people, i.e., a single nation. In-grouping is dangerous, because it depends on out-grouping.

The message that instead should get out is that everyone is an individual. That they should be welcome on their own terms, and for their own unique personality and gift. No two people are alike. Someone who comes with an attitude of openness and trust ought to be valued as a unique individual, and told, "I look forward to getting to know you, and I'm so glad you are here."

Comments

Jono said…
As a son of immigrants (anchor baby) I have never understood a closed attitude. I find it fascinating to discover the different perspectives, ideas, backgrounds, and (especially) foods. The potential to combine all that with the primary culture gives a chance for growth and greatness to occur with the merging of ideas and talent from everywhere. Sometimes you must take care of their basic needs first and then see later all they have to offer.
Toni said…
It is hard for our world to not try to shove everyone in the same square box. Some of us just don't fit.
Lissy said…
Nice to meet you Toni and thanks for empathizing.

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