The project is based at the University of Copenhagen and unites researchers that revisit the joint history of Denmark and Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, but another main focus of the project will be on cultural reactions to current geo-political changes.
My contribution to the collaboration is the postdoctoral project: “Geographies of Crisis. Post-industrial landscapes in the North Atlantic”
The aftermath of the economic crisis, that has proven also to be a cultural crisis, is influencing many levels of Icelandic society. Academic texts and art works have been dealing with nature as purity and industrial resource. This discussion of nature’s past, current and future role is intertwined with interpretations of the economic, cultural, and environmental crisis.
The increasing critique of environmental policies is one aspect of the post-industrial condition that has succeeded centuries with increased exploitation of natural resources as well as growing urbanisation and industrialisation in the whole region. In the years leading up to the economic collapse in 2008 Iceland, and in the years that have followed, there have been various examples of scrutinizing scholarly self-examination, artistic critique, and political debate concerning environmental policy.
In the North Atlantic region there is widespread criticism of the consequences of industrialization in many of the artistic representations of local places. In these works the local, regional and global geographical levels – and related political themes – overlap. Thus, the articles and artworks thematize various geographical levels of the landscape: the immediate environment, the national level (e.g. relations between rural and urban landscapes), the planetary level (focus on climate), the spiritual level (neo-shamanistic and neo-romantic depictions), and the global level (focus on globalization and marked economy). I am interpreting the supra-material critique of past and current developments – including shamanistic, anti-materialistic, and neo-romantic attitudes – that very often also pose suggestions for future directions.
Our joint research project Denmark and the New North Atlantic has a new website as of this summer: http://thenewnorthatlantic.com
On this site you will find information on the project and participants as well as a number of images and a portfolio with articles published by affiliated researchers for download. Furthermore there are small sample texts that outline some of the individual projects.
Currently we are working on our book on the new North Atlantic region and are excited to be writing it together – a method not often used within the Humanities. The result will be a multi-authored work rather than an anthology of articles. This gives us the opportunity to explore questions together and gain as much as possible from the interdisciplinary approach.
The future of a region
(Drawing of the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs by cartoonist Halldór 26.02.14 in Vísir)
In the entire region there is a renegotiation of the future role of the natural resources (oil, fish, hydropower) that are at the basis of ideas about national identity. These young nations are in the process of negotiating fundamental values in a global framework. As a part of the joint project I will place the Icelandic attitudes and development in this regional context.
Conference in Reykjavík, May 9-10: A Place in the World. Iceland in the Imperial World Order and the making of a North Atlantic Region
“Denmark and the New North Atlantic” brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars for exploring the cultural and historical relations that have influenced Icelandic national narratives in a regional context. The symposium addressed this mental and historical landscape in an interdisciplinary forum, with special focus on the position of Iceland in the imperial world order and the Danish realm as well as the development of an understanding of the North Atlantic as a culturally and politically constructed region form the nineteenth century and till the present.
Focus was on Iceland’s shifting status and relations within the region with reference to post-, crypto-, and neo-colonial insights and outlooks as well as referring to the role of nationalism in shaping historical understandings and changing perceptions of the region’s interrelations and Iceland’s place in the world.
Friday May 9, National Museum of Iceland
Uffe Østergaard (Copenhagen Business School), keynote speaker:
Legacies of Empire in the present Danish nation state
Guðmundur Hálfdanarson (University of Iceland), keynote speaker:
Iceland: A Province, Colony or Dependency?
Saturday May 10, National Museum of Iceland
The Medieval Nordic Commonwealth and the „Danish Tongue“
Jón Yngvi Jóhannsson:
Representing Iceland. National identity and Pan Scandinavianism in Gunnar Gunnarsson‘s political writings
The ambivalence of Iceland
Ann-Sofie N. Gremaud:
Fabulous Iceland – a place next to Neverland?
Danish immigrants in the republic of Iceland. Colonial history, cultural heritage and assimilation.
Placing Iceland on the Anthropometric Map: National Character, Physical Features and the Allure of Numbers
“Innocent babble”: Affective Identities and Racialization in Iceland
Northwest-bound: making and mobilising a ‘West-Nordic Arctic’
Narrating a “New Frontier”: Arctic Identities and Icelandic Foreign Policy in the 21st Century
Kirsten Thisted (University of Copenhagen), keynote speaker:
Building a “home” for the region. The role of Nordatlantens Brygge (The North Atlantic House in Copenhagen) in the construction of the New Nordic North-Atlantic.
At the multi-disciplinary SASS conference at Berkeley (San Francisco) May 2-4 “Denmark and the New North Atlantic” was presented at a stream on the first two days of the conference:
At the stream “Focus on Nordatlanten” most of the involved researchers from Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Germany and the Faeroe Islands presented their contributions to the joint project.
The organizers of the stream Kirsten Thisted, Malan Marnersdottir and Elisabeth Oxfeldt raised questions about the North Atlantic as a region that was at the core of the discussion:
It is generally believed that shared characteristics, common challenges, and historical, institutional and cultural links bind the region together. However, one might argue that in reality the conditions are so different that the idea of a particular region might seem a mere construction. Does “Nordatlanten” exist outside the Nordic Council of Ministers’ initiatives and as more than a symbolic location like Nordatlantens Brygge (the North Atlantic House) in Copenhagen”