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Borders and Bridges, University of California, Berkeley

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The recent movement of people fleeing political conflict in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the movement of workers from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world has brought global attention to questions of nationalism and transnationalism. In Scandinavia, 20th and 21st century immigration has unsettled notions of national identity, citizenship, and of the nation-state itself. Groups on the far right of the political spectrum have gained momentum, asserting a nationalistic agenda. At the same time, notions of national culture and identity have been challenged in Scandinavia, especially by the work of writers and artists interested in migration and its legacy. Such work and its reception often expose striking tensions and connections in Scandinavia’s increasingly multicultural societies. For example, the poetry of Palestinian-Danish writer Yahya Hassan has been simultaneously celebrated by the literary establishment and by anti-immigrant groups in Denmark for its critique of Islam, while the works of Jonas Hassen Khemiri explore the intersections of race, class, and gender in Sweden.

Yet it is not only contemporary literary production that questions the stability of nations and national identities in Scandinavia. The hard-won establishment of the Sami parliament, the longstanding language debates in Norway, Greenland’s relation to Denmark as “autonomous territory,” the role of Orientalist aesthetics in Danish National Romanticism, and the communities of Sweden Finns and Finland-Swedes all attest to the ways in which nationalism and the concept of nationhood have been contested.

We invite papers that explore nationalisms and transnationalisms in historical, political, literary, and artistic contexts in Scandinavia. We also welcome papers that examine the intersections of the medieval and the modern, such as the appropriation of Old Norse materials in the service of (neo-)nationalist projects. Broadly, conference-goers will grapple with such questions as: How does migration to Scandinavia alter, challenge, or renew notions of the nation? How are national borders represented and perceived in a global age? How do race, gender, and sexuality impact the crossing of borders (or the impossibility of doing so)? How is the erosion of borders celebrated or lamented in art, literature, or political rhetoric? Is the nation an adequate configuration for meeting contemporary social challenges?

The conference will be hosted at the University of California, Berkeley by ScandGrads, the graduate student organization of the Department of Scandinavian. Graduate students and early career researchers are welcome to submit paper proposals of 300 words or fewer by September 30, 2017

Please submit paper proposals and inquiries to scandgrads@gmail.com.

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