Examining national identity in Norway is not a new venture for me, although examining this through a digital lens, as this project does, is relatively new and exciting territory for studies in this field. In order to understand how national identity is viewed and conceptualized in Norway, a survey of previous work of national identity in Norway serves as a map to help examine connections between aspects of cultural heritage and national identity formation.
National identity, as it applies in Norway, firmly sits within 19th and 20th century thought, and is a "phenomenon" specific to these centuries (Bagge 1995:20). It is a concept applied particularly within these centuries as a result of the political conflicts and disputes with Denmark and Sweden that featured prominently at this time. In this era, as University of Oslo linguist Gudleiv Bø asserts, national identity in Norway comprised the search for cultural differences between Norwegian and Denmark that constituted an "us" versus "them" mentality; one that separated Norway as a unique entity after centuries of control from Denmark (Bø 2011:174).
While I am still trying to make sense of the data as it’s presented from the Språkbanken database, I can say a few things about what I think is going on with respect to how these concepts are occurring in the literature, as well as some of the issues with analyzing this data.
As the data is presented, one clear trend relates to the significant increase of all these concepts in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, and this is obviously due an increasing in publishing, which was confirmed through the NB. However, this isn’t to say I have to complete dismiss what I found. I still have been able to find some interesting things that do suggest that there is a trend towards multiculturalism in national identity in Norway.
One of the ways I have been able to see this is through seeing where concepts are appearing in the literature, that is, when they first spike, and correlating that to historical context. So it is interesting to see when these concepts first start getting mentioned and understanding them in that historical contexts, and also seeing where they are increasing or decreasing in mention after that. For example, "samisk" sees some smatterings of mention throughout the 1800s, but it really picks up around 1960 – which would be expected, as this was about the time of the elimination of the assimilation policies.
In a similar vein, "innvandring" and its variants for immigration really begin to climb in numbers during the 1990s and the 2000s. This also corresponds to the historical timeline, as immigration and discussions of immigration increased in these time periods, and continue into today, because of the recent crises in Syria and Norway’s reception of refugees from this area. National identity as a changing concept and one that requires constant reorganization due to increasing globalization and immigration features heavily in several recent pieces of scholarship (Eriksen 1993; Eriksen 2013; Fuglerud 2005; Ingebritsen & Lars 1997; Johannessen 2001; Knudsen 1997). These authors contend that reflections of nationality and national identity are increasingly changing as immigration becomes a more contentious and debated issue within Norway, reflections that focus more on one’s cultural heritage, ethnicity, and origin as the means by which to determine authenticity within Norway. This has become particularly evident in the early 1990s, where the drive to define the concept of "Norwegianness" found intensity through a revival of nationalist attitudes, particularly those that again emphasized the connection between archetypical Norwegianness and the rural identity (Eriksen 1993:12,40).
One other dimension of analysis I can see through these visualizations is the solid numbers of each concept and how they compare to each other – I think this is also telling of what types of things appear to be very important in Norwegian literature and hence to the Norwegian national identity. Again, adding in the historical context in which these comparison are occurring allows for some interesting insight into what, over time, has been most important to identity in Norway.
With respect to saying if it is a trend towards multiculturalism, that is a bit harder to extrapolate. I think the introduction and subsequent increase of a concept that is not necessarily Norwegian or Nordic centric, also with the fall of other more Nordic centric concepts, is telling that there is a bit of multiculturalism being introduced into Norwegian national identity. The increase of terms such as "kebabnorsk" and aspects of Sami cultural heritage such as "joik" alongside the continued use of Norwegian terms indicates that there is a degree of multiculturalism influencing Norwegian national identity. If there is a huge increase in the use of that term, that has to reflect some sort of important within Norwegian literature.
So can I say Norwegians are becoming more multicultural in their national identity? I think that is the case, and that the relationship between the increase in diversity of terms that are being associated with Norwegian national identity and their increasing presence in Norwegian literature alongside older markers of identity indicates a trend towards a more multicultural, inclusive national identity. Cultures continue to evolve and change over time, and one aspect of this includes inevitable changes in identity (Anderson 2006 ). I see Norwegian national identity as something evolving to be more multicultural and reflective of a globalized, cosmopolitan world, while also continuing to embrace those traditions and heritage that have been part of Norwegian national identity for years.
The data can be interpreted to understand that more things are being written about a bigger variety of markers that define Norwegianness. This project will continue to explore the literature, and in the future, other mediums of expressions including museums, music, and art, to explore this growing sense of multiculturalism in Norwegian identity. With the advent of the Syrian crisis and increased immigration in Norway, I think national identity in Norway is becoming a bigger topic, and I think that there is this scramble to figure out these relationships and changes in identity in a multicultural society, and they are trying to acknowledge how and more importantly WHY these all fit together into one cohesive national identity. But I think this is a process that has been in the making since 1814, and is still evolving to something much more multicultural and Norwegian at the same time.