Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Norway and the world

One of the best known experts on Norwegian culture, the anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen, has an interesting web presence. In his site he publishes old articles in Norwegian and English (some quite hilarious descriptions of cultural clashes between Norwegian and Global culture), but also more updated comments and English language version of his columns in Norwegian newspapers.

Norwegians love to learn what other people know about Norway, and so a scholar like Hylland Eriksen becomes very popular with his descriptions of outrageous lack of knowledge about this country abroad. Norwegians kill whales, get very drunk, all the food taste the same and we are not very knowledgeable about non-norwegian cultures. Eriksen has made it his project to show Norwegians Norway from the outside.

I am not sure if he succeeds though. Norwegians love to laugh at our own weirdness - to be misunderstood is an object of pride! And of course, everybody misunderstands Norwegians. So Hylland Eriksen, in his sharp criticism, ends up confirming what all Norwegians know already: the rest of the world just don't get it.

Me as Norwegian as the rest, proud that we are so special the rest of the world can't understand the in-joke of Norwegianness? Only after a lot of booze and a good whale-steak.


Thomas said...

Hehe, nice. On the retina of foreigners, Norway probably seem like inhabited by aliens!

Andrea said...

Hi Torill,
I was just wondering if you've ever peeped into his book "Tyranny of the Moment" - a very good read...