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Textualizing Democracy: The Norwegian Constitution 1814–2014 (completed)

About the project

The specific interdisciplinary and textual focus on the Constitution allowed us to explore new ways of analyzing citizens' participation in the evolution of democracy in Norway. Relying on methodologies that share an understanding of texts as social actions, we focused on investigating the textual processes involved in the creation of the Norwegian Constitution and its various transformations and interpretations during the last two centuries. A significant part of this investigation was to consider how the Constitution has evolved as a continuous dialogue with texts relating to international events in that period.

The focus on the textual qualities of the Constitution helped us scrutinize both its complex prehistory and its history of changes and interpretations. The textual focus enabled us to reveal citizens' actions and decisions on a micro-level, and to follow closely diachronic and transnational transformations.

Our project moved beyond mono-disciplinary approaches to the Norwegian Constitution to fuse knowledge generated in our respective realms of expertise and to expand research of the Constitution into textual research.


We planned to disseminate our research as an academic book published by an international publisher. Chapters in the book approach several interrelated dimensions of the Norwegian Constitution as a text:

  • textual culture 1814 in Denmark-Norway,
  • the writing down of constitutional texts,
  • Article 100 and the past,
  • temporal inscriptions,
  • the 1814 understanding of 'constitution',
  • textual connectives,
  • constitutional intertextuality,
  • the power of genre,
  • British reflections,
  • a comparison with the US experience,
  • judicial and political codes,
  • facilitation of public discourse,
  • amendments as text changes,
  • parliamentarians on the language of the Constitution,
  • and young students' interpretations.

Financing (2011-2013)

The project was co-financed by

Textualizing Democracy springs out from the Kultrans Research Area Foundational Texts.


  • University of Oslo:
    • Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History
    • The Centre for Gender Research
    • Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies
    • Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages
    • Department of Political Science
    • Department of Public and International Law
    • The Department of Sociology and Human Geography
    • Department of Teacher Education and School Research
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • University of Bergen: 
    • International, Constitutional and Human Rights Law
  • University of Genoa
  • University of St Gallen


Book cover of the book "Writing Democracy", created by the participants of this project.

Writing Democracy. The Norwegian Constitution 1814-2014. Berghahn Books, October 2014.


Published Oct. 27, 2020 12:22 PM - Last modified Aug. 4, 2022 9:05 AM