The new politics of identity in the Nordic region

A public conversation with Mohamed Abdi, Faith Mkwesha, Anna-Maria Sörberg, and Gavan Titley. Chair: Elisabeth L. Engebretsen.

@Tou Scene, Kvitsøygt. 25, Stavanger.

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, 6 PM – 7:30 PM
All welcome - No registration. Free admission. Bar.

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In a moment marked by growing political polarization, social and economic inequality, and cultural conservativism, much is at stake for less advantageous groups and minorities positioned at society’s margins. Minority rights and equality campaigns on the part of women, immigrants, LGBTs and so on, threaten democracy, claim the voices of the political right. While it is clear that political mobilization based around shared experiences of identity and group belonging, is as important as ever, if not more, "identity politics" is critiqued for being a divisive concept that prevents rather than supports the struggle for equality and justice. If, as Gary Younge has recently argued, there is always identity in politics, how can we meaningfully depart from the dismissive "identity politics" framework and consider identity as a useful basis for a different politics of justice and solidarity in our time? What could this look like?

In this public conversation, we discuss these issues as they pertain to the Nordic countries in particular. What are the hindrances and possibilities for democratic participation for minorities – (how) can we live together?

About the panelists:

Mohamed Abdi is a teacher, columnist and writer, based in Oslo. Abdi was a contributing author to the anthology ''Islamsk Humanisme'' (2016) and ''Kjære bror'' (2018), and has also published a number of articles on the topic of integration, gender equality and religion in various magazines and newspapers in Norway, including Samora, Vinduet and Morgenbladet as well as other publications.

Dr. Faith Mkwesha is the Executive Director of SahWira Africa International NGO, and is also a Consultant on Diversity, Inclusion and Gender. She is an advocate for diversity and an active anti-racist activist doing work to change the culture in Finland. She is also a researcher at University of Helsinki’s Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN). Currently, Dr Mkwesha is working on A Children's Library Project looking at representation of black people in children's books from a decolonial perspective. She has worked in Higher education as lecturer, literary and cultural critic and administrator in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Her PhD is on Gender and the Nation in African women's literature and African culture.

Anna-Maria Sörberg is a freelance journalist and writer in the field of sexuality, gender and otherness. She is the author of Det Sjuka (The Malaise) where the image of the ”HIV Man”, a sexual predator and monsterous ”Other" prevalent in Swedish media headlines in the late 2000s, is the starting point for investigating the demonizing and racist implications of the Swedish HIV policy. She is the editor of the anthology Över Regnbågen (Over the rainbow), which highlights new challenges for the LGBT movement, in Sweden and internationally. Her latest book Homonationalism (2017) explores the implications of growing conservatism in gay culture, new alliances between the LGBT community and nationalist and far right movements, and the nominal adoption of LGBT rights as means of creating a distance to non-Western culture. She writes regularly on queer politics for various Swedish magazines.

Dr Gavan Titley is Senior Lecturer in Media Studies in Maynooth University, and a Docent in the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki. His books include The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (Zed Books, 2011 with Alana Lentin) and the co-edited After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech (Zed Books 2017) and the forthcoming Racism and Media (Sage Publications 2019). He is currently writing Is Free Speech Racist?, for the Debating Race series of Polity Press, due out in 2019.

Dr Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen is an Associate Professor with the Network of Gender Studies, University of Stavanger. A trained anthropologist, Engebretsen’s work has been concerned with gender and sexual minorities in China (the PRC), with a particular focus on queer and feminist movements in a transnational perspective. She is currently writing a book about Pride activism in Norway since the 1970s.


This event is part of the two-year Transforming Identities project, and has been generously funded by the The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Nordic Councils of Ministers.

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