Elisabeth Oxfeldt

"Scandinavian Guilt and Shame in an Age of Globalization"

Elisabeth Oxfeldt
06/02 2019
12:15-13:15, Danish IAS conference room (Ø18-509-1)

“Scandinavian Guilt and Shame in an Age of Globalization”

By Professor Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Institutt for lingvistiske og nordiske studier, Universitet i Oslo (UiO)


We live at a moment in time when most Scandinavians are extremely privileged. Time and again we are acclaimed as the richest, happiest and most egalitarian nations in the world. At the same time, globalization brings us into close contact with non-privileged Others. Through media and migration we are confronted on a daily basis with an awareness of suffering Others – child laborers, victims of trafficking, war refugees, etc. The Other lives side-by-side with us; often they even contribute (more or less directly) to our affluence.

A striking number of contemporary narratives indicates that this sense of global inequality does not simply lead to Scandinavians’ counting themselves lucky for their unusual privileges; they also feel a significant amount of guilt, shame, and overall discontent. In my talk I will use the Norwegian TV-series Skam as my point of departure for a discussion of contemporary Scandinavian guilt and shame. I will subsequently draw on various other examples from Nordic film, TV, and literature.

Read more about Elisabeth Oxfeldt and her background here