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Browsing by Author "Fabritius, Nora"

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  • Fabritius, Nora (2018)
    The ethnic diversity in Europe is increasing and targeted cultural rights for old and new minorities are today a hot topic of debate. Most studies of these debates have so far focused on public discourses. This thesis asks how ethnic and national identities gain function as arguments in these debates and takes the study of them to the grass-root level of a specific locality: Porsanger. Porsanger is a municipality in Northern Norway with three official cultures; Sámi, Kven and Norwegian. Lately, also new immigration has increased the local diversity. The specific objective of this thesis is to analyse 1) in what kind of discourses ethnic and national identities gain function as arguments, 2) what kind of versions of these identities they facilitate, and 3) what kind of norms and ideologies these arguments build on. The primary material of the study consists of thematic, qualitative interviews with 19 inhabitants from Porsanger, all with diverging backgrounds and ethnic affiliations. The analysis was done with Discourse Analysis and borrowed concepts from Argumentation Theory. The discursive contextualization was done with ethnographic material and 36 thematic interviews from Porsanger (from year 2015 and 2017), previous research, media material and governmental documents. The results show, that the utterances in which diverging constructs of ethnic and national identities gain argumentative function reflect two central ideologies. First off, the function of ethnic identities is especially prominent in utterances which build on the idea that cultural rights are a question of minority categorization and of being an “authentic” minority. Three legal categories with different ethnic criteria, which entitle to different levels of protection, form the basis for targeted minority rights today: indigenous peoples, national minorities and immigrant groups. Sámi are today recognized as indigenous peoples and Kven as a national minority. Three discourses are identified in the material. In discourses in which the status or the authenticity of a specific group is questioned, ethnic identities become a matter of debate. In the Discourse of sameness, groups are re-constructed as indistinguishable right claimants. In the Discourse of opportunism, existing rights are opposed by questioning the authenticity of specific group identities. The normative presuppositions in these discourses insinuate that those that are autochthonous and “authentic”; those traditional and genetically and culturally distinct, have the most right to cultural protection. Secondly, the utterances also reflect the public discourses in which cultural rights boil down to a question of national belonging: a question of who should receive protection by the state and whose culture belongs in the public sphere. Hence, also re-constructions of the nation gain function. Several pan-ethnic boundaries such as “western”, “indigenous”, “Muslim” and “refugee” are drawn in these negotiations of belonging. Those culturally most distant are constructed as having the least right to belong. In addition, and more surprisingly, also the region of Porsanger gains a clear function. I argue, that Porsanger takes form as a nation-like construct. In the Discourse of regional belonging, constructs of Porsanger and the Norwegian nation justify different standpoints on the inclusion of immigrant cultures. The Norwegian nation or Porsanger as multicultural functions as an argument for increased rights for immigrant groups, while Norway as mono-cultural, and Porsanger as part of it, functions for the opposite. Constructing everyone in Norway as ethnically “mixed”, functions both as an argument against exclusion of immigrants but also against targeted rights as such. Conversely, constructing the nation as built on several distinct peoples (Norwegian and Sámi or Kven) becomes an argument for targeted rights. This thesis shows that rights and identities are negotiated in plural and fragmented ways and in relation to other groups, the nation, and the regional community. The thesis shows that identity construction is a dialectic, context dependent, glocalised way of ordering the world.