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NORWEGIAN LIFE AND SOCIETY NORINT 0500 ASPECTS OF CULTURE AND IDENTITY 17.03.2014 MARIT MELHUUS. No such thing as a ”culture” or an “identity” Cultures are continually evolving Look for underlying values Anthropologists use case studies. “Small facts speak to large issues”
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ASPECTS OF CULTURE AND IDENTITY
Cultures are continually evolving
Look for underlying values
Anthropologists use case studies.
“Small facts speak to large issues”
Look at everyday, practices, events, phenomena
Resonance in Norwegian society
Food: the Norwegian matpakke or packaged lunch
Nature: the Norwegian Trekking Association: Den norske turistforening (DNT)
Kinship: Transnational adoptive families
Gender: Biotechnology Act and Assisted Conception
Food tied to identity.
Runar Døving. 1999. “Matpakken. Den store norske fortellingen om familien og nasjonen” in Relgionsvitenskapelig tidsskrift.
(Matpakken: The big Norwegian Narrative about the Family and the Nation.)
It is made at home
It is packed in thin, wax paper
Started with introduction of a school breakfast in 1920s
Issue: health and nutrition
Value of raw food, over cooked food
Raw food is “real” food: natural, clean, healthy
Produced the “natural” person
Matpakken tied to nautre: belongs to outdoors
Matpakken tied to major state institutions: kindergartens and schools
Part of everyday life
Food practices are structured by ideas of work and leisure time
Story of matpakke is about effort and reward
Encapsulates the relationship between the family and the state.
Hungry children eat their matpakke
Domesticating the “wild”
The Norwegian Trekking Association
Den Norske Turistforeningen – DNT
Ween, Gro and Simone Abram. 2012. “The Norwegian Trekking Association: Trekking as Constituting the Nation” in Landscape Research. 37:2.
Established in 1868
50 branch offices
20 000 km of marked trails
6500 km of way-marked skiing tracks
Expression: “gå på tur aldri sur” epitomizes Norwegian attitudes to being outdoors (Go for a walk, never glum)
Main claim: embodied mobility of trekkers implies an ongoing ordering that weds individual bodies to prescribed ideals of nation, nature and environmentalism
DNT makes the mountains and wilderness available
DNT arranges and encourages a way of moving in nature
DNT standardizes certain nature practices
DNT affirms experiences of what Norwegian nature is
Standardize Norwegian nature
Control movement/walking in nature
Create a sense of Norwegian Nature
Mountain Law 1920
Outdoor Recreation Act – 1957
National Parks – wilderness protection 1960s and 70s
Creation of commons - everyone has access to nature
Highlands transformed to roaming lands
Nature redefined as national and not local
Mapping – the T trails
Creating networks of paths
Much work based on “dugnad”:
The whole country becomes inscribed
The wild is “tamed”
around an idea of equality
Nature is there for “all”
You meet as equals regardless of background
Nature practices are important to a sense of norwegianess
Nature is perceived in a way that may be specific to Norwegians
Howell, Signe. 2003. “Kinning: The Creation of Life Trajectories
In Transnational Adoptive Families”, JRAI, 9.
Difference between biological and social kinship
Kinship is universal – but the way kinship is understood and practiced will vary and is culturally specific
In Norway, kinship is based on shared substance
That shared substance is often expressed through a notion of shared blood: Blood is thicker than water
Family values are highly emphasized in Norway.
Transnational adoption highlight ambiguities with regard to kinned relatedness
Tied to: blood, place, land and people
Kinning: process by which a newborn child is brought into significant relationship with a group of people expressed in a kin idiom
Norwegian Biotechnology Act
Example of state policy regulating how people may procreate and form a family
Assisted conception – method in vitro fertilization
Permits conception outside the womb
Robert Edwards won Nobel Prize in medicine in 2010
Challenges our ideas of natural conception
Destablizes notions of motherhood and fatherhood
Prohibits egg donation
Permits sperm donation – but with known sperm donor
Does not permit surrogacy
Sperm and egg are treated differently
People who need treatments not permitted in Norway travel abroad
Law prompts “reproductive tourism” or cross-border reproduction
about who the mother is and who the “real” father is
Mother is “one” – and not to be fragmented: birth mother, genetic mother
In law: mother is the one who gives birth
Fatherhood established through pater est, by recognition or claim or by proof (DNA)
Anonymous sperm donation conceals the “true” father
Child has the right to know its origins
Origin is defined as biological
Differential treatment of sperm and egg have been grounded in natural differences between mother and father
Today these arguments are losing ground.
Gender discrimination and equal access to treatment for men and women winning ground.