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

What does it mean to be Norwegian? This question forms the foundation of this digital website Camping, Landlig, Mjølner, Saklig: A Project Exploring Norway’s National Identity. This 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. It is an expanding project with the intent to explore several tools and applications in the area of digital cultural heritage to try different avenues of methodology to find answers to questions regarding Norwegian national identity. These 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?

For the user, the section of the website titled Identity in Literature: Examining National Markers in Norwegian Literature, is much like reading a book or novella. A prologue introduces the premise of the exploration of Norwegian literature in this project, and the questions regarding national identity. Each subpage in this heading focuses upon a group of concepts that are 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. An epilogue page within this section provides a summary discussion of the analysis of the data and the digital tools. Lastly, the site includes 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 the exploration of national identity on this website. As this site is expanding, it will include other mediums in which Norwegian national identity has and will be explored.

Why study Norwegian national identity? 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.

Erin Pevan

2016-2017 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

MA Student, Department of Anthropology