In this dissertation I examine recent Norwegian racial formations. I argue that whiteness has become an increasingly central aspect of productions of Norwegian national identity. Furthermore, I show that the racializing processes first established in the early 1970s continue to be reproduced and shape Norwegian society today. The dissertation focuses on three disparate but interlinked sites. First, I discuss the experiences of postwar Southern and Eastern European migrants in Norway, based on interviews with 12 migrants. I argue that these migrants are produced as white in a qualitatively different way from non-migrant Norwegians who are seen as white. Furthermore, I suggest that the apparent production of the migrants' children as white and Norwegian shows that Norwegian forms of whiteness are less dependent on tracing descent to Norwegian territory than has previously been suggested.
Secondly, I trace the changing discourses of race and migration that culminated in the 1975 "immigration stop" legislation. I argue that at the beginning of the decade Norwegian understandings of immigration were not heavily dependent on constructions of race, but that they became so within a few years. Using close readings of policy documents, the Parliamentary debate on the "immigration stop" and newspaper coverage from the entire period, I show that the development and passing of the legislation was dependent on, and in turn codified, racial constructs that saw some migrants as always already excessively different.
Lastly, I argue that imperatives to love-and romance-based marriage that is evident in Norwegian family reunification law constitutes a racial project - one that can be seen as an extension of the processes of racialization that were established in the 1970s. I also suggest that arranged marriages queer in relation to Norwegian heteronormativities.
In the conclusion I point both to the continued reiteration of race in Norway, and to forms of opposition to the racial productions that I have discussed. I argue that international perspectives on racial formation provide analytic dexterity that is necessary if Norwegian racializing processes are to be interrupted.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisor: Jigna Desai. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 215 pages, appendices A-B.
Myrdahl, Eileen Muller.
Orientalist knowledges at the European periphery: Norwegian racial projects, 1970-2005..
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.