Tina Møller Sørensen: Cultural aspects of the current Scandinavian identity crisis

In this, I will attempt to show examples of the cultural manifestations of the identity crisis that is currently – and has been for the past years – sweeping over Scandinavia (referring to Denmark, Sweden and Norway). What is particular about this crisis is that it seems to have struck on most sides of society; while the “Scandinavian model” of the welfare state is slowly crumbling in the wake of the global financial problems, both left- and right-wing are deeply marked on their core identities and feel pressured from both internal and external sources (Hübinette & Lundström 2011). At the center of both this struggle and crisis is the notion of the Homo Scandinavicus; this seems at the same time threatened on existence (by different enemies depending on stand in the struggle) and contested on its very content: how is Homo Scandinavicus defined, what does it contain and what are the limits – who can claim this title? In all Scandinavian countries a so-called “cultural battle” has been articulated and used as heavy artillery when articulating characteristics of either side. It is this battle I will highlight and through examples of this “cultural battle” attempt to demonstrate how the “general public” has been taken hostages on this identity battle field, where one is either deemed as being “in” or “out”. Furthermore, I will give examples on alternative strategies (notably found in the art worlds), and why these has also failed to provide actual functioning alternatives to the leading, rivalling, identity strategies. The nature of this crisis and the ways it manifests itself, are by no means strictly restricted to Scandinavia, but is present in most of Europe. Therefore – despite the specificity of the Scandinavian example – considerations about manifestations and consequences presents some highly relevant and much more general insights.

Tine Møller Sørensen is born in 1978 in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2010, she obtained her MA in Modern Culture & Cultural Communication from University of Copenhagen, specialized in Cultural Memory and Identity Positioning. She has previously developed and curated the exhibitions New Serbian Art (2009) and Thoughts on Things – sustainable aesthetics (2010) in Copenhagen, and is creator & curator of the International photo-exhibition HJEM.DOM.HOME, shown in Copenhagen, Belgrade, Novi Sad & Pancevo Oct. 2011 – Feb. 2012. The project will further be displayed as a temporary exhibition at the Danish Immigration Museum Jan.-June 2013. On several occasions she has been guest lecturer at University of Copenhagen at the courses Cultural Heritage and CulturalProcesses, has given a guest lecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade as well as taught on the matter of the concept of culture at Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen. Furthermore, she has published several articles on the matter of identity and cultural memory in Danish newspapers and magazines. Currently she is working as a researcher and planner for DR Culture at the Danish Broadcast Corporation.