Migration, Identity and Language

Research area description valid for the period 2009-2010. Replaced by Mobility and Cultural Complexity in 2011.

We want to encourage research that investigates various aspects of the relationship between migration, identity and language and that uses methods and theories developed within the social sciences and the humanities (broadly defined, so that they encompass the Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, Education and Theology).

Narrowing the disciplinary gap between the humanities and the social sciences will greatly help in achieving a better understanding of complex processes that are currently accentuated, but that can also be identified in certain historical situations. When we bring together different perspectives on expressions of identity and possibilities for exercising identity that have evolved within different disciplinary traditions (also within the faculties), a great potential comes to light for increasing our insight. The opportunities that lie in challenging basic categories and perceptions of research objects, by bringing different perspectives in contact with each other, are striking in the fields of migration, identity and history.

The consequences of different definitions of ‘language’ can serve as an illustrative example here. On the one hand, language can be defined as a fundamental, identity-carrying element in the force field between global and local forces. One such example is the role of Nynorsk (the less common of the two official forms of written Norwegian) as an identity carrier and identity indicator. On the other hand, language can also be defined as a system of signs among several other semiotic resources. This definition makes it possible to include how people over time systematically choose to identify themselves with certain elements from the available semiotic resources. As seen from this perspective, parts of the ‘Nynorsk field’ would then represent one type of element among many others that achieve a specific valuation by being used as an object of identification. By including studies of social identification processes (which in the case of Nynorsk might e.g. be found in the relationship between local communities and urbanization and the formation of new types of social hierarchies in Norwegian society), it thereby also becomes possible to see how and why the constellation of people and identification objects changes, in an open but non-arbitrary manner over time.






Leader (from January 2010): Thomas Hylland Eriksen.








Leader 2009-2010: Ingjerd Hoëm.