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Discourses of the Nation and the National (completed)

Globalization and late modernity gave rise to the postnational, but national social formations and nationalisms persist. 

About the project

National social formations and nationalisms tend to reappear in new forms, or continue their existence under the guise of cosmopolitanism, or become constructed as patriotism in certain discourses.

The focus of this project is a comparative study of various aspects of the national across various discourses. Some crucial aspects of "the Nation" and "the National" are constructed and deconstructed in discourse for example national language discourse and the discourse of national cultural studies.

The modes of realization, visibility, and importance of the reproductions of the national vary from country to country. We wanted to examine these differences by concentrating on various realms of discourse:

  • mass-media
  • literature
  • academic texts
  • public discussions
  • discourse by political elites.

We also included the reflexive and self-reflexive dimension in this project: we not only studied "the national", but also how this research objective is approached discursively and studied for example at universities.

The subtopics of the project include, but are not limited to:

  • discourse of the national in the humanities,
  • language and the national,
  • discourses establishing or destroying national languages,
  • national narratives in public discussions about European integration and EU enlargement,
  • the interrelation of the national and the environmental, especially in discourses in regional and urban planning.

PhD fellows

  • Visnja Cicin-Sain. PhD project: Metaphorical models in the discourse of national languages on the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian vs. Serbo-Croatian)
  • Ole Sneltvedt. Phd-thesis: The Republican Narrative and American Political Culture: Wendell Berry, Christopher Lasch and the Great American Cultural Conversation.

Guest Researchers

  • Silvia Camilotti, PhD.
    • Focus of research: a comparative study of several migration experiences in Italy and in Norway.
  • Prof. UKW dr hab. Anna Bączkowska.

    • The construction of identity of Polish immigration in Norway.

  • Alina Zvonareva, PhD.

    • The national before nations: a corpus-based study of the expression of ethnic identity in medieval Italo-Romance texts.

  • Andreja Vezovnik, PhD

    • Discourses of the “migrant crisis” in the western Balkans 

    • Nationalism, Slovenian (post-)communism, and food 

  • Rosario Forlenza, PhD

    • Nation, Origin, Memory: The Practical uses of Historical Experience

  • Dr Silvia Grassi

    • Metaphors on National Identity on Catalan television


Guest lecture: Stephen Norris

Blockbuster History 2.0:  Movies, Patriotism, and Politics in the Era of Putin 2.0.

Time and place: Mar. 19, 2018 10:15 AM–11:30 AM, Seminar room U31, Helga Engs hus

Stephen M. Norris will discuss how Russian patriotic cinema has become much more state-centered in its use of historical memory. Illustration photo: (CC0 1.0) 

About the lecture

Maria Lipman has recently argued that the second presidency of Vladimir Putin should be termed "Putin 2.0," for it has coincided with increased crackdowns in the cultural sphere that did not occur during Putin's first presidency (2000-2008).

This presentation will build on Lipman's notion and will examine the state of Russian popular cinema during the era of Putin 2.0 (2012-present). Building on Stephen M. Norris' previous work, Blockbuster History in the New Russia, which examined the rise of Hollywood-style blockbusters in Russia between 1998 and 2008, this presentation will analyze the major changes in the politics of memory since 2012.

Norris' book had a somewhat optimistic tone to it, arguing in part that cinematic examinations of the past served as a means to generate extensive, probing discussions about concepts such as patriotism, nationhood, and memory. 

The Russian state, while benefiting in part from the patriotic culture generated from these films and their discussions, did not intervene in the production process. This has changed since 2012 and since the appointment of Vladimir Medinsky as Minister of Culture in the Russian Federation.  Using a handful of case studies: 

  • Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad (2013),
  • Dmitry Meskhiev's Battalion (2014),
  • Khusein Erkenov's Ordered to Forget (2014),
  • Andrei Shal'opa's Panfilov's 28,
  • and Andrei Kravchuk's Viking (2016)

Norris will discuss how Russian patriotic cinema has become much more state-centered in its use of historical memory.  Instances where directors do not follow Medinsky's line find their films threatened with bans for "historical falsification," as was the case with Erkenov's movie.  At the same time, two recent films backed by Medinsky and his ministry – Dmitry Kiselev's Spacewalk and Aleksei Uchitel''s Matilda – have either flopped or produced protests. 

The cultural practices of Putin 2.0, in other words, have produced mixed results.

About the guest lecturer

Stephen M. Norris is Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian History and Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University (OH). 

Meandering Self-Fashioning in Ivo Andrić’s Novels

Vladimir Biti from the University of Vienna will talk about: Exempt from Belonging, Meandering Self-Fashioning in Ivo Andrić’s Novels.

Time and place: Oct. 26, 2017 2:15 PM–3:45 PM, PAM 489

About the lecture

Ivo Andrić inherited his multinational belonging from the time when Bosnia and Hercegovina was ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and with the rise of post-imperial Yugoslavia he confronted the imperative of national identity. However, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes inherited the modern western European idea of the nation via German imperial adjustment, which represented a compromise between modern western European heritage and pre-modern east-central European political heritage.

Its hovering between the empire and nation-state thus set the stage for the meandering identity politics characteristic of Andrić’s work. By developing self-exempting techniques of authoring his narratives, Andrić sought to come to terms with his “internally exterior” identity, or the in-betweenness of his ethnic, linguistic, and cultural affiliations, which he unexpectedly faced with the dissolution of both the Habsburg and Ottoman empires.

To exempt himself from these political surroundings that had suddenly grown inimical, Andrić built up his authorial self—as I demonstrate through an analysis of his major novels—as an impartial divine judge that promises currently antagonized human beings future reconciliation and harmony.

About the guest lecturer

Vladimir Biti is Professor Emeritus of South Slav literatures and cultures at the Faculty for Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna.

On Becoming Green: The Changing Sense of Place in the American City

Open talk by Professor David E. Nye, from the Center for American Studies University of Southern Denmark.

Time and place: Oct. 5, 2017 1:00 PM–3:00 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, room 252

Both environmentalism and the writing about "place" have long been associated with the countryside, but half of the world’s people now live in cities. According to UN estimates, by 2030 60 percent of the world's population will be urban. Already the US is more than 70 percent urban. How can cities, which occupy only 3 percent of the earth’s land area, become “greener," and how is this process related to discovering, developing, and sustaining a new sense of urban place? This lecture will be based in part on The Environmental Humanities, A Critical Introduction (co-authored with Robert Emmett) MIT Press, October, 2017.

About David E. Nye

David E. Nye has taught American studies in the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark, and lectured throughout Europe on American history and culture.

Scandinavia through Sunglasses

Time and place: Sep. 28, 2017–Sep. 29, 2017, Blindern

Symposium: Scandinavia through Sunglasses. Spaces of Cultural Exchange between Southern/Southeastern Europe and Nordic Countries

Time and place: September 28th–29th, 2017, University of Oslo.

This symposium is part of two projects: Discourses of the Nation and the National, which is a comparative study of various aspects of the national across various discourses, and Found in Translation: Southern Europe/Norden, which investigates the crossroads between translation, national identities, and how their construction, reception, and adoption are mediated by cultural differences.

The symposium will discuss which southern/southeastern European national and cultural traits are represented in fiction and other cultural productions, how they are seen and received by the Nordic audience, and what impact they have on the Nordic model of society—or, vice versa, how Nordic culture and society are seen and received in southern/southeastern Europe.

Therefore, the participants are expected to address how this exchange impacts national identities and social models, and to examine the flow and effects of transnational dialogue between cultural integration and national diversity. The symposium will discuss national imagologies from a variety of perspectives and fields. Travel books and guidebooks, foreign language learning materials, weblogs entries and press pieces, documentaries, personal interviews, and online discussions could all be material to consider to determine how identities’ negotiations shape Nordic and southern/southeastern national models in public and private spaces of communication and interchange. Any kind of interdisciplinary approach is welcome.

Guest lecture - Clearing the Backlog of National Agendas: Pre-Communist Expulsion Projects under Communism, 1945–1989

Time and place: Aug. 28, 2017 2:15 PM–3:30 PM, PAM 389

Clearing the Backlog of National Agendas: Pre-Communist Expulsion Projects under Communism, 1945–1989

In east-central and southeastern Europe, the obsession of communist regimes with social homogeneity was paralleled by a striving for ethnonational homogeneity. In this perception, the stability and security of a communist state depended not only on protection by the Soviet Union and membership in the Warsaw Pact, but also on internal factors. Alongside dissident ideological and political orientations and deviant social behavior, what could be termed “non-titular-nationality” was also perceived as a potential danger, if not an acute one. At times of threats to external or internal security—and there were always threats, be they real or imagined—from this perspective, this potential danger could easily turn into an actual one. This was the rationale behind politics of forced assimilation and forced migration. This development was enforced by traditional ethnocentrism not only among large strata of the society but increasingly also in the party apparatus, the security forces, and the administration. In appealing to the nationalist sentiments of the population, the party leadership aimed at strengthening its legitimacy, thereby accepting a downgrading of its own ideological principles.

Stefan Troebst is a historian and Slavic studies scholar, and since 1999 a professor of eastern European cultural history at Leipzig University in Germany. His fields of research are international and interethnic relations in modern eastern Europe. He has published widely on the culture, history, and politics of the Balkans, east-central Europe, Russia, and the Baltic Sea region.

Rosario Forlenza: Populism and Religion in Contemporary European Politics

Time and place: June 21, 2017 11:00 AM–12:00 PM, PAM 389

This lecture examines the role of religion in the recent trend towards right-wing European populist politics, in particular as manifested in public reaction to migration from Muslim countries. More specifically, it focuses on what has become a central trope of European right-wing populism: the defense of Europe Christian’s roots against Islam. It addresses questions such as: Why have right-wing populist parties and movements placed religion and religious identities at the centre of their political platform? Why have they have radicalized the religious discourse? Most importantly,  how has the religious discourse contributed to the appeal of right-wing populist politics?

Rosario Forlenza is a Research Fellow at the Remarque Institute, New York University, and a Fellow at Potsdam University's Center for Citizenship, Social Pluralism, and Religious Diversity. 

Guest lecture - The Discourse of the UK Referendum: Evidence from Twitter

Jonathan Charteris-Black is Professor of Linguistics at the University of the West of England, UK. His research interests are metaphor, rhetoric and political discourse.

Time and place: May 15, 2017 11:00 AM–12:30 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, møterom 489

One week before the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union 41 year old Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally slain in a politically motivated murder. A report of twitter postings in the month following her death showed that there were over 53,000 tweets that celebrated her murder from at least 25,000 individuals. Some postings described Mrs Cox as a "traitor" and even referred to her killer as a "hero" and "patriot". Other postings described the language used in the debate as ‘vitriolic’ and contributed to the polarisation of the country into ‘them’ and ‘us’ positions. Direct instances of ‘hate speech’ co-existed with other instances of forceful language – both metaphoric and literal – indicated a set of values to which the poster was strongly committed.

I argue that the Twitter social media campaign contributed to the polarisation of the country in the week leading up to the referendum. I demonstrate how clusters of high frequency and semantically related words enable me to identify both keywords and, subsequently, frames. Frames include both literal and metaphorical uses of words and they provide valuable insight into the cognition of both ‘sides’ in the referendum ‘battle’. I examine Twitter postings for the hashtags ‘Brexit’, ’VoteLeave’ and ‘VoteRemain’ in the one-week period between the slaying of Jo Cox and the date of the referendum to address the following research questions:

  • What keywords were employed on Twitter on the topic of the UK referendum?
  • What metaphors were employed on Twitter on the topic of the UK referendum?
  • What evidence do keywords and metaphors provide of the underlying cognitive frames that characterised the UK Referendum?
  • Was there any difference in how keywords, metaphors and frames were used by supporters of Brexit and Remain, for example in how Leave supporters represent Remain supporters and in how Remain Supporters represent Leave supporters?

Taken together addressing these questions enables an initial description of the Discourse of the UK Referendum as evidenced through Twitter.

Where possible findings will be classified using the ideological square as a means of demonstrating how frames emerge from lexical choices. In this approach there are four possible categories of lexical use according to two scales: one for intensity/ hyperbole and the other for euphemism. The positioning of clusters of words on these scales allowed me to compare ‘us’ and ‘them’ representations.

Early analysis suggests three key themes:

1) Patriotism, & a Heroic National History

2) Trust & Betrayal

3) Freedom and Slavery

Guest lecture - Yugoslavia after Yugoslavia: Graffiti about Yugoslavia in the Post-Yugoslav Urbanscape

Mitja Velikonja is professor of cultural studies and head of the Center for Cultural and Religious Studies at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Social Sciences in Slovenia.

Time and place: Nov. 14, 2016 2:30 PM–4:00 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, møterom 252

Twenty-five years after the bloody collapse of socialist Yugoslavia, the urban walls in its successor states are still filled with pro- and anti-Yugoslav graffiti and street art. Based on my longitudinal research and on semiological (quantitative and qualitative) methodological approaches, the main questions of this presentation are how, where, and why Yugoslavia, its socialism, its anti-fascist roots, and its leaders are (de)constructed, praised, and condemned in this specific urban subculture.

At the level of denotation, graffiti and street art can be divided into different types of pro-Yugoslav and anti-Yugoslav sentiment, often directly opposed in graffiti battles. At the level of connotation, three major ideological antagonisms appear: socialist federalism versus nationalism, Tito versus his opponents, and antifascism versus fascism.

Before presenting the final findings of the research, expressive strategies of such urban production are analysed, such as provocation and criticism, affirmation and continuity, marking territory, constant antagonisation, and semiotic guerrilla warfare.

About the guest lecturer

Mitja Velikonja is a professor of cultural studies and the head of the Center for Cultural and Religious Studies at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Social Sciences in Slovenia. 

Workshop: Metaphors in the Discourse of the National

The workshop seeks to discuss the intersecting fields of metaphor research and research on “nations” and “the national,” and the levels at which metaphor is relevant to the study of these concepts.

Time and place: Sep. 8, 2016 9:15 AM–Sep. 9, 2016 4:00 PM, Lucy Smiths hus, Hannah Ryggen rommet

Many case studies concentrating on specific issues, such as EU integration, have demonstrated that metaphors play a role in constructing both national and supranational identities (see, e.g., Marks 2004, Hülsse 2006, Musolff 2000, etc.). However, a systematic understanding of the levels at which metaphors are relevant in the study of “the national” is still lacking. This workshop will address these levels by focusing on the following topics:

  • Reference to the nation as a personified individual: its “banality” and possible implications.
  • Metaphors in the making of nations; key metaphors that constitute nations and related concepts (e.g., BODY, PERSON, FAMILY, CONTAINER, etc.), and their role in public discourse.
  • Metaphors in conceptualizing nations and talking about nations. Is the difference between metaphorical thinking and metaphorical text/talk important?
  • The type and role of metaphors in scholarship concerned with nations and nationalism. Scholarship concerned with nations uses some “unavoidable” metaphors at the micro-level of expression, but it also deliberately uses some specific metaphors (e.g., to explain processes and their results, such as nations coming into being).
  • The motives for metaphor / the limits of metaphor / the abuse of metaphor. For example, the role of metaphors in establishing and weakening emotional attachment and the sense of belonging to national communities (languages, symbols, etc.); the role of metaphors in instrumentalizing emotional attachment to national communities for specific policies.
  • The interaction of metaphors with symbols, myths, cultural models, and stereotypes, and the role of that interaction in national discourses (e.g., value and memory discourse), and in discursive construction of distinct national identities. Is metaphor important in the construction of difference, and, if yes, how?
  • To what extent do metaphors constitute nation-related concepts? What is metaphorical about nations, what is their “non-metaphorical dimension,” and how do these possible dimensions relate? How do metaphorical and non-metaphorical dimensions of discourses about nations and the national relate? 

We welcome different methodological approaches (e.g., explorations of metaphors in large collections of public discourse, metaphors in corpora, visual and multimodal metaphors, texts as metaphors / metaphors in texts, metaphors and reflections about metaphors in research literature on nations and nationalism, etc.) that will emphasize different aspects of metaphors in the study of nations and the national.


Thursday, September 8th

  • Keynote Lecture 1. Andreas Musolff (University of East Anglia): The discursive construction of nation through metaphor
  • Felicity Rash (University of London): Metaphors of flowing liquid and plant cultivation in German colonialist discourse (1871–1914)
  • Agne Cepinskyte (Russia Institute, King’s College London): State- and nation-bonding through metaphors in political discourse: The German Heimat and the Russian Rodina
  • Ludmilla A’Beckett (University of the Free State, Republic of South Africa; Monash University, Australia): The metaphor “brothers” in Russian representation of self and others
  • Daniel Weiss (University of Zürich): The Ukrainian nation: Stepmother, younger sister, or stillborn baby?
  • Aleksander Gomola (Jagiellonian University of Kraków): Metaphors of nation in the Catholic discourse in contemporary Poland
  • Višnja Čičin-Šain (University of Oslo): Metaphors and Language Purism. The negotiation of Croatian national identity
  • Stijn Vervaet (University of Oslo): “Let’s save the Serbian Language!” Normative linguistics, metaphors, and national identity construction in the newspaper Politika
  • Aleksandar Pavlović (University of Belgrade): Imagining “Old Serbia”: Kosovo as a metaphor in Serbian national discourse
  • Vedran Catović (University of Michigan): Metaphoric bankruptcy in Top lista nadrealista: The curious fate of chauvinism in former Yugoslavia and contemporary European Union
  • Lesia Ponomarenko (Autonomous University of Barcelona): Sailing close to the wind: Translating sensitive metaphors for international news

Friday, September 9th

  • Keynote lecture 2: Michael P. Marks (Willamette University): The desire for shelter: Nation- and state-building and the metaphorical discourse of fragile and collapsed states
  • Benedikt Perak (University of Rijeka): The role of metaphor and metonymy in the construction social identities in Croatia. A corpus based study of the concept NATION in Croatian
  • Mateusz-Milan Stanojević (University of Zagreb): Metaphorical and non-metaphorical dimensions of talking about nacija ‘nation’ in Croatian
  • Ljiljana Šarić (University of Oslo): How to do things with metaphors: The “prison of nations” metaphor in South Slavic online sources
  • Nadežda Silaški and Tatjana Đurović (University of Belgrade): Barbed wire around Serbia: Migrant metaphors as a means of constructing national identity
  • Jovana Todorović (University of Oslo): The one and only: Metaphors and politics in the Norwegian ban on dual citizenship
  • Evgenia Massie (University of Aberdeen): Salmond’s use of metaphors in his discursive construction of Scottish national identity
  • Silvia Grassi (University of Oslo): Guidelines on how to construct a nation: Metaphors in the Catalan series Gran Nord
  • Massimiliano Demata (University of Bari): “The state of our union is strong”.  Metaphors of the nation in the State of the Union addresses

Transnational Culinary Discourse

Alexandra Grigorieva, Ph.D., Classics and Food History scholar, core research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Åpent for alle.

Time and place: Sep. 5, 2016 2:15 PM–4:00 PM, PAM møterom 252

Diachronic development of national in transnational culinary discourse: case study of 'Russian salad' vs. 'Italian salad' from 19th to 21st century.

When we hear the word Italian salad, or Russian salad what do we generally surmise? Usually, that this is something we can typically eat in Italy, or Russia. However, food names are often much more complicated. It can be quite erroneous to take such national and even relatively less controversy-inducing geographic food names at their face value. Turkey doesn’t come from Turkey, nor does the same fowl - dinde in French - come from India, and Jerusalem artichoke has no claims on Jerusalem.

It becomes even more fraught with difficulty, if a dish of the same name is common to several nations that have a history together. In this case the national identity of falafel in the Middle East, or moussaka in the Balkans may be discussed ad nauseam, because people feel very strongly about their own heritage that informs their personal background and resent the slightest hint of what is in their eyes cultural appropriation.

Since the birth of the nationalism in the 19th century and its enthusiastic acceptance by the European society even such trivial things as food names have become a potential minefield. In my lecture, I propose to explore the evolution of geographical/national food words throughout European history, focusing especially on culinary nationalism. We will also look at its supposed by-products, to figure out how much actual ‘national’ is there. What is national about the Italian salad of greens, anchovies and salami promoted by the French haute cuisine in the post-World War I period? Or Russian salad, popular in Spain, that includes tuna (a fish unfamiliar to most Russians until the last few decades)? How does the national discourse influence our tastes and culinary perceptions?

Alexandra Grigorieva, Ph.D. is a core research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finland.

Symposium Nation, Boundaries, Place

Time: June 2, 2016–June 3, 2016

Organising Committee: Silvia Grassi, Elizaveta Khachaturyan, Mark Luccarelli, and Ljiljana Šarić

Symposium Schedule

Thursday 2 june

  • Keynote Lecture: Rosario Forlenza (Columbia University, USA): “nation as a ‘home’: anthropological foundations and human needs”
  • Workshop 1: Civitas and Nation
    • Steven Colatrella (Boston College, Parma extension; University of Maryland, University College, extension, Italy): “From Hannah Arendt to Malcolm X: Refugees Rights Republics”
    • Ole Sneltvedt (University of Oslo, Norway): “Constructing Walls around the Social Construction of the Nation: Ancient Walls, the Common and Political Preconditions”
    • Stefano Adamo (Banja Luka University, Bosnia and Herzegovina): “Monuments carved in film: Developing civic awareness through the memory of fallen anti-mafia activists”
  • Workshop 2: Nation and State
    • Bojan Glavasevic (University of Zagreb, Croatia): “Razor wire and the European dream”
    • Jenny Ponzo (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany): “Contemporary interpretations of Italian national unification: The nation as an anti-model”
    • Boris Vukićević (University of Montenegro, Montenegro): “(Re)interpretation of History as an Instrument of Nation Building(s) in Montenegro”
    • Clemens Büttner (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany): “Imperial expectations of strong nation-statehood: China’s military modernization strategy in the early 20th century”
  • Workshop 3: The Biological and Environmental Bases of Nation
    • Werner Bigell (University of Tromsø, Norway): “The Environment in a National Frame: The Asymmetry between Global Environmental Problems and National Solutions and Imaginaries”
    • Venla Oikkonen (University of Helsinki, Finland): “Ancient DNA and National Belonging”

Friday 3 june

  • Keynote lecture: Piers Stephens (University of Georgia, USA): “What’s Wrong with having your country invaded”?
  • Workshop 4: Nation Beyond Boundaries
    • Sergio Sabbatini (University of Oslo): “Taking the boundaries with you: Italy and the National in the work of Luigi Di Ruscio, Italian migrant writer in Norway”
    • Elizaveta Khachaturyan (University of Oslo): “Movable Boundaries: The Case of Italian Identity in Norway”
    • Monica Miscali (University of Oslo): Emigration and nationalism: Italian emigration to Norway in the XIX century.
    • Anna Bączkowska (Kazimierz Wielki University, Poland): “Polish diaspora in Norway – commonality and national identity: A discursive study of new media data”

Guest lecture - The Sacrificed Body in Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Film

Tatjana Aleksić is Professor of Balkan and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. Åpent for alle.

Time and place: Mar. 2, 2016 12:00 PM–1:30 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, møterom 252

About the lecture

In her lecture based on her book, The Sacrificed Body, Tatjana Aleksić examines the widespread use of the sacrificial metaphor in cultural texts and its importance in sustaining national discourses in the Balkan region. Aleksić relates the theme to the sanctioning of ethnic cleansing, rape, and murder in the name of national homogeneity and collective identity. The Sacrificed Body is based on the theme of the immurement of a live female body in the foundation of an important architectural structure, a trope found in texts from all over the Balkans. The male builders performing the sacrificial act have been called by a higher power who will ensure the durability of the structure and hence the patriarchal community as a whole.

Aleksić explores restrictive national discourse through the theme of sacrifice and exclusion based on gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, or politics for the sake of nation building, most prevalent during times of crisis brought on by wars, weak governments, foreign threats, or even globalizing tendencies.

The lecture will specifically focus on socialist and post-socialist film narratives dealing with issues of gender (in)equality, repressed sexuality and masculine aggressiveness, and their role in post-Yugoslav nationalist discourse.

About the guest lecturer

Tatjana Aleksić is Associate Professor of Balkan and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

Green Politics in a National Framework

Guest lecture by professor John Barry. Open for all.

Time and place: Nov. 6, 2015 11:00 AM–12:00 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, room 489

Green politics is often framed as (and also reflected in dominant self-understandings of itself), a form of 'acting locally, thinking globally' in which the national level is usually omitted.

Hence much of green thinking is cast in very local terms (community or town/municipal based such as the Transition Towns movement or the sustainability potentials of city-regions), or global terms such as UN Climate diplomacy, global justice or various sorts of 'cosmopolitan' thinking.

However, without rejecting this local-global focus, there are reasons (both practical and normative) that can be advanced for green politics to view the positive potentials of the institutions of the nation-state and associated ideas of national identity to contribute to the transition from unsustainability. One such potential direction is a 'green civic republican' defence (and reform) of the nation-state so that it may be 'fit for purpose' for he challenges and opportunities of this transition.

John Barry is a Professor in Politics, Queens University, Belfast.

Symposium "National Symbols across Time and Space"

This symposium is part of the project “Discourses of the Nation and the National”

Time and place: Sep. 17, 2015 9:00 AM–Sep. 18, 2015 5:00 PM, Lucy Smith's house, Rådssalen

Despite the evident weakening of the nation and the national during these times of cultural globalization, nationalisms are not disappearing in the world. Instead, they are reappearing in a range of new forms utilizing both new and renewed symbols. Or perhaps we are witness to a reconstruction of old forms and old symbols? Symbols are often understood as abstract universals (Piercy 2013) raising the question of whether or not national symbols reflect universal patterns in symbolic systems. Or, is the analysis of symbols most usefully understood in relation to the particularities of different national discourses? We are interested not only in discussing concrete symbols (like objects or persons) representing a nation, but also in abstract symbols (like language and ideas).

Symbols give form to the invisible and describe the intangible, constituting in effect a masked pattern of culture. But while symbols can unify a group of people, the interpretation of symbols can also divide them. Contested symbols may be linked to “discursive battles” as to their meaning, acceptance, or rejection. Arguably, self-identified groups wish to avow their own symbols meaning that symbols become an avowed pattern of culture subject to disputation and conflict. In our workshop we would like to discuss different faces of the national symbols and their role in a construction or a deconstruction of the nation.

Symposium program

Thursday, September 17th

  • Symbols, discourses, and legacies (1) – The Contested Symbolism of “March 68,” or How Poland’s Serious Newspapers Grapple with the Legacy of Antisemitism. Knut Andreas Grimstad, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • Spectacles of the National in an Autocratic State: National Day Celebrations in Belarus. Maryia Rohava, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • Resurrections and Rebirths in the Archaeology of Memory: The Risorgimento in Twentieth-Century Italian Political Symbolism. Bjørn Thomassen, Department of Society and Globalization, Roskilde University and Rosario Forlenza, European Institute, Columbia University.
  • Victims, Martyrs, and Brava Gente Past and Present: Constructing the Foibe as a National Symbol in Italy. Louise Zamparutti, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
  • Symbols, discourses, and legacies (2) – Perceptions of the Flag and National Identity in Lithuania after 1990. Egle Kesylyte-Alliks, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • The Ribbon of St. George and the Colorado Beetle. Pål Kolstø, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • National identity and symbolic characters – Fictional Characters in Czech National Identity: Babička and Švejk. Karen Gammelgaard, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • The New Symbolic Role Played by Patriotic Women in the Risorgimento: The Mother as a Symbol of a Whole Nation. Monica Miscali, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • National Time, Narrative Symbols, and Logics of Exclusion. Bruce Barnhart, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • Andrew Jackson and the Politics of Identity: Symbolic Contestation and the Limits of the Political in the United States. Mark Luccarelli, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • Discourses, languages, and identities – “Cyrillic Does Not Kill”: Symbols, Identity, and Othering in Croatian and Serbian Public Discourse. Ljiljana Šarić, ILOS, University of Oslo, and Tatjana R. Felberg, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.
  • Migrating Symbols: How to Maintain National Belonging. Elizaveta Khachaturyan, ILOS, University of Oslo, and Silvia Camilotti, Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
  • National Symbols of Portugal and Brazil: A Corpus-Based Comparative Approach. Ana Rita Ferreira, CFUL – Center for Philosophy of the University of Lisbon.

Friday, September 18th

  • National symbols in cultural and literary texts (1).
  • Is Japan the Empire of Signs? Christopher P. Hood, Cardiff University. 
  • Trajectories of the “National” in Post-1989 Serbian and Croatian Lexicographic Practice. Ivana Trkulja, University of Eastern Finland.
  • The Construction of Concrete and Abstract National Symbols in Colombia’s Official Discourse (Nineteenth Century) and its Parodic Deconstruction in García Márquez’s Narrative (Twentieth Century). A Mythological Approach from the Social Semiotics. Nelson Gonzalez-Ortega, ILOS, University of Oslo.
  • National symbols in cultural and literary texts (2).
  • The Non-Existent Ones: Irregular Immigrants’ Narratives and Norwegian National Identity. Annika Bøstein Myhr, Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies (ILN), University of Oslo.
  • Rus′ and Rossiya: From Nouns to Symbols. Olga Lytvyniuk, Research Laboratory of Contrastive Linguistics and Foreign Languages Didactics, Navchalna Knyha Publishing House, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
  • Goths as a Legitimizing Symbol in Medieval Spain. Ingmar Söhrman, University of Gothenburg. 

Organizers: Elizaveta Khachaturyan, Mark Luccarelli, Ljiljana Šarić


Journals and articles


  • Mark Luccarelli: The Eclipse of Urbanism and the Greening of Public Space: Image Making and the Search for a Commons in the United States, 1682–1865

Master’s theses 

  •  Andreas Stormo, Middle Class Economics? Restoring the American Dream in a Corporate Age (completed fall 2015)
  • Laila Berg, Imagining Independence: Creativity, Agency, and Nationalism in the Scottish Independence Movement (completed spring 2016)
  • Anna C. Likværn, Discourses of the Refugee Crisis: An Analysis of Italian and Norwegian Newspaper Articles  (completed)
  • Stefan Blanuša, The Cyrillic Script and Serb Identity Presented in Online Media (completed)

Project presentations and seminars

  • Silvia Grassi: National Tales on TV: What Catalan Public Television Service Tells Us about Catalonia. January 16th, 2015.
  • Andreas Stormo: Piketty, Protest, and Plutocracy: America towards a Post-Neoliberal Economic Discourse? March 13th, 2015.
  • Ana Rita Ferreira: Lusophone discourses of the Nation and the National. March 25th, 2015.
  • Anna Bączkowska (Kazimierz Wielki University, Poland): Immigration Discourse: Discursive Strategies and Construction of Identity. September 11th, 2015.
  • Anna Likværn, Laila Berg and Stefan B. Vukšić presented their master's projects on January 13th, 2016.
  • Ole Sneltvedt and Višnja Čičin-Šain presented their doctoral projects attached to the Discourses of the Nation and the National project. March 3rd, 2016.
  • Alina Zvonareva (University of Klagenfurt): The national before nations: a corpus-based study of the expression of ethnic identity in medieval Italo-Romance texts. September 29th, 2016.
  • Andreja Vezovnik (University of Ljubljana): “Cooking, Feeding, and Nurturing the Nation”: Flagging Nationalism through Food Discourses. November, 1st 2016, 10-11 am, PAM 489.
  • Project seminar: Ole Sneltvedt, Višnja Čičin-Šain and Veronica Bagaglini presented parts of their dissertations in progress. May 29th, 2017.
Published Apr. 7, 2014 1:02 PM - Last modified May 18, 2022 10:17 AM