Guest Researchers

Silvia Camilotti, PhD

Last affiliation: University Ca’Foscari, Venice

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: June and September 2015

The focus of my research is a comparative study of several migration experiences in Italy and in Norway.

This empirical inquiry seeks to show how national cultures are subjected to social and cultural pressures, which are well represented by the individual experiences that I collected. I have sought to examine the gap between the imagined idea of Italy and “italiannes” among migrants before their arrival in Italy and the actual situation they had to face, looking at the Second Language Acquisition processes. Additionally, I interviewed Italians living in Oslo, in order to compare their cultural and linguistic experiences and their idea of the destination country before and after migration to Norway. Furthermore, by questioning the target group about the perception of their own identity and culture, this has offered useful insights on the change that migration produces on people.

I believe that the analysis of the processes of language learning could become the litmus test to determine the level of integration of migrants in one country. Integrating the individual process of language learning and the social world where this process takes place could offer a more complex view of the conditions of migrants in a destination country; it additionally allows checking the expectations and stereotypes (both positive and negative) they have on the destination country and which idea of both host and home culture they would like to convey to second generations.

The tool of qualitative interviews has facilitated the collections of migrants’ experience, turning into an occasion for them to express themselves. Actually, in public discourses (at least in Italy), migrants are perceived as objects without a voice nor occasions to speak: by interviewing them I have tried to establish a setting where a pedagogy of inclusion would take the place of a pedagogy of inquiry (See Norton, Identity and Language Learning, 2013, 2nd edition). Creating the conditions for agency has helped to overcome the distance between the researcher and the target.

I interviewed 9 migrants in Italy and 10 Italians in Norway and each interview was typewritten in order to catch similarities and differences between the experiences in the two countries but also within the same country.


Prof. UKW dr hab. Anna Bączkowska

Affiliation: Kazimierz Wielki University, Poland

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: August-September 2015; February 2016

The construction of identity of Polish immigration in Norway

The aim of the project is to study the re/construction of national identity of Polish immigration living in Norway. When discussing the re/emergence, constructing and consolidating national identity in discourses, we cannot avoid framing the issue within the notion of transposition, i.e. transferring common national past, expressed by cultural products and social practices and attitudes, onto the new ground (the host country). The process entails changing one sign system into another, both through abandonment of the former sign system and/or its permutation, leading to merging the former with the new sign system. Thus framed, transposition is discussed in the context of the emergence of new socially-constructed identities, triggered by societal and political-economic transformations, revealed in discursive formations.

Theoretically and methodologically, the study hinges on Critical Discourse Analysis and Im/politeness Theories. Evaluative attributions encoded in language, both deprecatory and appreciative traits, which label the host country, the fatherland and compatriots living in Norway, are discussed in terms of a selection of discursive macro- and microstrategies and forms of im/politeness. The investigation is to unveil the discursive strategies and forms of im/politeness used by Poles in social media (internet forums, youtube, facebook, etc.), and to determine what the language used by the Polish immigration reveals about the sense of their national identity. More precisely, the study relies on lexical, discourse and stylistic analysis of material gleaned from a purpose-built (social) media-based corpus of Polish immigration in Norway.


Alina Zvonareva, PhD

Affiliation: University of Klagenfurt

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: August-September 2016

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

The focus of this research is a corpus-based lexical analysis of the problem of national and ethnic identity in the 12th-14th century Italo-Romance texts. Strictly speaking, the term ‘national’ referred to this historical context is anachronistic: there still were no nations in the modern sense of the term, there was no such country as Italy, and the Apennine peninsula was characterized by political, cultural and linguistic polycentrism (it still is, in some way). However, the Middle Ages were the historical period that gave the basis for the formation of modern Europe, and medieval Romance texts demonstrate that the concept of ethnic identity was very important in the 12th-14th centuries. This project focuses on how boundaries and ethnic identities were perceived in Italo-Romance texts of that period, as well as in coeval Franco-Italian literature, i.e. French texts written by Italian authors. For this purpose, the Corpus OVI dell’Italiano Antico [Corpus of Old Italian] and some complementary corpora were interrogated.
The project addresses several factors important for defining the Italian identity in the late Middle Ages, and the most important nation-related terms and concepts are studied. The analysis is structured around five core areas in the discursive construction of national identities at the content-level (Wodak et al. 2009): a collective past, a collective present and future, a common culture, a common territory, a homo nationalis. Special attention is paid to differences between medieval and contemporary nation-related concepts and terms. One of our goals is to individuate and describe the changes this semantic field has undergone, and to establish if and to what extent it is possible to speak of any continuity between the medieval and modern situation.


Andreja Vezovnik, PhD

Affiliation: University of Ljubljana

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: August-November 2016

My research focused on two different topics:

Discourses of the “migrant crisis” in the western Balkans

This study explores the media discourses that emerged during the “refugee crisis” in 2015 and 2016 in Slovenia. The corpus analyzed consists of two parts.

The first part of the analysis focuses on approximately four hundred transcripts from the daily prime-time TV news show Dnevnik aired by the Slovenian public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. The analysis explores the formation and “effects” of security discourse. Transcripts are analyzed using critical discourse analysis. However, the overall exploration of the phenomena of securitization of migration is addressed using Foucault’s notions of discourse, risk, power, dispositif, and biopolitics.

The other focus of the study was developed in collaboration with professor Ljiljana Šarić from the University of Oslo’s Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages (ILOS). The research explores images and texts published by two online news portals: Slovenia’s MMC and Croatia’s HRT, both public broadcasters. The analysis considers the period between September 15th, 2015 and November 15th, 2015 to explore the symbolic absence of subjects (such as migrants and security subjects) in photos from these public broadcasters. Multimodal analysis is used to study images and related texts (journalistic articles).

Nationalism, Slovenian (post-)communism, and food

This study starts from the presupposition that media texts on food are part of a “civilizing” process that shapes identities and “flags” ideologies. Because identity is found in the embodied habits of social life and its practices, to have a national identity is to practice those habits—including ways of preparing food and eating. As Wilson says, food and drink are therefore signifiers lying at the heart of nationhood and therefore of ethnic, national, class, gender, sexual, local, and other identities.

The study primarily explores how discourses on food and food-consumption practices in media texts reflected and supported the political and social transition (from early socialism to the (pre-)European Union period) of Slovenia as an ex-Yugoslav country. The project explores in depth how food and food-related practices became spaces of banal nationalism “flagging” nationhood and national ideologies during the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the transition period.

In order to show how “banal nationalism” (Billig 1995) works through food representation, I apply a combination of qualitative approaches to discourse analysis (critical discourse analysis, social semiotics, and multimodal analysis) that combined together provide a consistent hermeneutical framework.


Rosario Forlenza, PhD

Affiliation: New York University and Potsdam University

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: June 9 - July 7; August 10 - 24

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

The stubborn perseverance of national identity in an age of globalization and cosmopolitanism requires reframing the approach to the national. One of the most significant trend of this historical time, especially in the specific context of Europe, is the emergence a powerful institutional apparatus dedicated to ‘internationalization’ of the educational institutions and an attempt at the same time to transcend national politics through regional and global institutionalization. Today, academic interest in the significance of the nation faces institutional counter-forces generated by educational bureaucracies and the media sphere. In line with globalization, research about the nation as a basis of identity and a means of organizing cultural life are driven largely by the arguments against nationalism. In other words, they are ideological in nature. Current frames see nationalism historically as an ideologically driven 'construction' of elites, a paean to a lost age, or a recurrence of 'populism'; and fascism.  These perspectives have assumed the triumph of post-nation and what Ulrich Beck calls ‘globality’, that is to say they are premised on the rise and rise of international institutionalism, despite the obvious evidence of major and growing cultural, geopolitical and socio-economic splintering of the global sphere. There is also an assumption that nation, insofar as it is a topic of serious political relevance, should be measured by the ideology of nationalism, read through the lens of twentieth century history.

Against this approach, this project holds that the political imagination of nationalism requires a problematization of the socio-cultural and anthropological conditions underlying it, as well as the reassertion of importance of latent or hidden background practices, discursive and non-discursive, that are simply taken from granted both in ordinary life and on explicit scientific investigation and concept formation.  


Dr Silvia Grassi

Affiliation: Università degli Studi di Torino

Period of stay at the University of Oslo: 11-25 August 2017

Metaphors on National Identity on Catalan television

Silvia’s research was related to the book project Metaphors, Nations and Discourse. Besides contributing to giving feedback to other two chapters of the book, I focused on revising my own chapter entitled "Guidelines on how to Construct a Nation: Metaphors in the First Episode of the Catalan Series Gran Nord".

The aim of this project is to identify primary metaphors embedded in the narratives of the series Gran Nord which support or dismantle discourses around national identities. By employing Conceptual Metaphor Theory, the aim is to examine ideological meanings constructed around places and characters through metaphors, in particular how these metaphors construct conflicting projects of national identity and how these projects interact with one another.

This subproject fit within the framework of the project Silvia carried out as member of the "Discourses of the Nation and the National" research project from January 2015 to July 2016. The project focuses on the analysis of the discursive construction of Catalonia as a nation in Catalan television. The project paid particular attention to television series and their role as cultural and ideological products.

Published Oct. 26, 2015 4:38 PM - Last modified Dec. 14, 2017 11:15 AM