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Erin Pevan


May 12, 2017

Launch Post – Camping, Landlig, Mjølner, Saklig: A Project Exploring Norway’s National Identity

May 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

Greetings to all digital cultural heritage enthusiasts! Today I formally announce the launch of my 2017 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship project: Camping, Landlig, Mjølner, Saklig: A Project Exploring Norway’s National Identity.

Project title:
Camping, Landlig, Mjølner, Saklig: A Project Exploring Norway’s National Identity

Project URL:

Project overview:
This project is my narrative of my explorations of expressions of Norwegian national identity. It is the culmination of my graduate coursework for my master’s thesis in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology, my experiences studying abroad in Oslo at the International Summer School, and my participation as a graduate fellow in the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative at Michigan State University. It is my endeavor to explore answers to the question of “What does it mean to be Norwegian?” through the use of digital cultural heritage tools to explore new methodologies to answer this question.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in exploring the implications of national identity and its usage in defining authenticity and belonging within a greater community. Exploring national identity in Norway is important because expressions of identity in Norway and early attitudes of nationalism often had repercussions and consequences for those who did not fit into these identities; your status as a Norwegian hinged upon your participation and identification with these themes which constituted a national identity, and could lead to marginalization and exclusion if one did not “fit in”. Because of this historical trend, this evolution of national identity has continued to have implications for the people of Norway, and understanding this evolution and place of national identity in an increasingly multicultural society is important to the livelihood of those who call Norway home.

Description of the project:
The specific aim for this digital project examines different concepts and markers of Norwegian national identity and the occurrences of markers of Norwegian national identity as expressed in literature and narrative, using digital tools to examine trends and changes in national identity markers over time. I have explored different tools and applications in the area of digital cultural heritage to try different avenues of methodology to find answers to my many questions regarding Norwegian national identity, questions which fall into two overarching broader questions:

• What is Norwegian national identity and how is it expressed?
• In what ways has this national identity been changed and challenged over time, in what historical contexts, and especially with respect to changes in modern times?

Project architecture:
For this current iteration of the project that focuses upon Norwegian national identity as expressed in literature, a website with a heavily customized Bootstrap theme serves as the space in which my explorations of meaning-making and the evolution of cultural heritage and Norwegian national identity becomes embodied in a digital medium. Since this portion of the website investigates concepts of national identity as expressed in literature, that section is presented, from a user’s perspective, as that of reading a book. The overall landing page of the site gives an introduction to the site and contains links to the different sections I have built and will be working on this summer, much like the table of contents of a book. I include an overview of my theoretical frameworks and the methodologies of this project, as well as some of the problems and difficulties in interpretation of data I’ve experienced with some of the digital tools I’ve used in this project.

In the section of the website titled, Identity in Literature: Examining National Markers in Norwegian Literature, a prologue introduces the premise of my exploration of Norwegian literature and my questions regarding national identity. Each subpage in this heading focuses upon a group of concepts that I have explored as the manifestations or representations of national identity. These groups of concepts or markers encompass five broad categories: national identity (which includes addressing problems of defining nationalism, nationality, citizenship, and ethnicity in this category), changing ideologies and philosophies of thought governing how citizens in a society perceive each other; tangible heritage; intangible heritage; and nature and the environment. Within each group, the data consists of specific words and phrases corresponding to these broader concepts, which I have gathered from both scholarly literature and my own ethnographic interviewing, and are charted using JavaScript visualizations for their presence within Norwegian literature. The markers searched in the literature are presented in a list on each page, and will also be presented on each visualization. An epilogue page within the section Identity in Literature: Examining National Markers in Norwegian Literature provides a summary discussion of the analysis of the data and the digital tools. Lastly, I include a full glossary of all of the markers explored thus far on this website, as well as a full list of the references and acknowledgements used and consulted in my exploration of national identity on this website.
For more information on the data, tools, methods, and theoretical frameworks used for this project, see my detailed explanations under the Motives and Investigation pages.

Future directions:
This project will continue to explore national identity as expressed in literature, and in future pieces of this project, national identity in other mediums of expression including museums, music, and art. I want to continue to explore both a changing Norwegian national identity and the growing sense of multiculturalism in Norwegian identity, as well as use different methodologies and tools in the realm of digital cultural heritage that help explore national identity through different frameworks. In Summer 2017, I plan to incorporate into this project and website my research into expressions of cultural history and national identity in Norwegian museums, particularly UiO’s Museum of Cultural History and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. For this I am still researching tools and visualizations to express this research in a digital space, and it’s likely I will use tools such as Mapbox to include a custom designed interactive map to serve as the starting point of my research into national identity and cultural history representation in museums in Norway. I am also going to include a section (2-3 distinct web pages) of the website dedicated to my ethnographic research into kebabnorsk as an expression of cultural hybridity, presenting an overview of this language variety and its role in Norwegian national and multicultural identity. And lastly, I want to create a page that incorporates a timeline of Norwegian language history, using JavaScript frameworks such as Knight Lab’s Timeline.js or Timeglider.js to visualize an interactive user experience of the complex history of the Norwegian language.

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