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The Crises of Multiculturalism?

Gavan Titley, Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Minna L. Henriksson and Sezgin Boynik

Moderator: Natalie O’Donnell

Museet for samtidskunst
Bankplassen 4
Thursday 10.05.2012 at 17.00
Free entrance

As a cultural phenomenon nationalism predates the nation state. The national borders in Europe are disintegrating and nationalist ideas are gaining terrain. In France the Romani have seen their living areas demolished, in Sweden the right-wing populist party, Sverigedemokraterna, has been voted into office, in Finland the ethnic status of a citizen is signaled through the colour of his or her passport, and in Norway the criminal prosecution of Anders Behring Breivik is unfolding. ‘The Crisis of Multiculturalism?’ aims at examining the effect the nationalist winds which are currently sweeping over Europe has on the production of art. Why are nationalist ideas spreading so fast? Are we experiencing a backlash in thinking about multiculturalism?

In countries like Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland, the governments have granted large amounts of funding for multicultural programs, but to what effect? In 2008 the Norwegian government placed special focus on promoting cultural diversity by granting extra funds towards initiatives encouraging cultural diversity – only to declare that funding towards commemorating cultural heritage would be prioritized the year thereafter. The governments in Denmark and Finland have formulated new cultural guidelines in order to protect traditional national culture from what could be considered foreign or alien.

The panel will address the topic of multiculturalism from a wider historical and social perspective.

About the panelists:

Gavan Titley is a lecturer in Media Studies in NUI Maynooth , IrelandTogether with Alana Lentin, Titley has recently authored  The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (London/New York: Zed Books , 2011), in which the two authors question the concept of multiculturalim and its legacy as to its political effect on multicultural European societies. For this panel, Titley will present  an outside perspective  on the current  criminal prosecution of Anders Behring Breivik. He will address the type of idology that predominates the reasoning of  assasinators such as Behring Breivik upon setting out to kill proponents of multiculturalism, arguing that the ideas of Behring Breivik are increasingly prevalent in extreme right-wing movements all over Europe.

Elisabeth Oxfeldt is Professor at the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, at the University of Oslo, Norway. She holds a Ph. D. in Scandinavian literature from U.C. Berkeley, USA, entitled Orientalism on the Periphery: The Cosmopolitan Imagination in 19th-Century Danish and Norwegian Literature and Culture (2002). Oxfeldt has published extensively on Nordic and Scandinavian literature focussing on a post-colonial and (post-)national context.

For her presentation in ’The Crises of Multiculturalism?’ she takes a closer look at Nordic literature with regards to nation building, nationalism and imperialism. Her historical examples include Henrik Ibsen, Henrik Wergeland and Knut Hamsun, while some of the current examples include Jonas Hassen Khemiris and Hanne Ørstavik.

Minna L. Henriksson and Sezgin Boynik. In their presentation Minna Henriksson (artist) and Sezgin Boynik (sociologist) will introduce and critically evaluate both their collective and individual work on the topic of nationalism, followed by a discussusion of the theoretical and practical outcome of it. The two have been working on nationalism, individually and collaboratively, for several years. In 2006 they organised an international conference in Priština followed by the book Contemporary Art and Nationalism – Critical Reader. In 2010 they produced the students’ exhibition and publication Manifestations of Nationalism in Everyday Life. They are currently working together with Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger on a film essay Cultural Dead End, which adresses the current multiculturalist policies in Finland.


Moderator: Natalie O’Donnell has completed a BA in Modern History and Politics at Jesus College, Oxford, UK, and a BA degree in History of Art and Political Science from the University of Oslo, Norway. She also holds a PGDL/LPC postgraduate degree in Law and graduated from the Royal College of Art, London,UK, with an MA in Curating Contemporary Art. She is currently a PhD candidate in the research project ”Place and Displacement: Exhibiting Architecture” at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. O’Donnell has worked for the Norwegian National Touring Exhibitions, the DSV Network in Oslo, and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. O’Donnell’s current curating projects include a touring Pushwagner retrospective opening at Milton Keynes Gallery in June 2012.

Upcoming Afternoon lecture and panel at 17.00, Museet for Samtidskunst: 23.08.12  WHAT IS A MONUMENT?