“We don’t throw stones, we throw flowers”: race discourse and race evasiveness in the Norwegian university classroom
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEthnic and Racial Studies. 2021. 10.1080/01419870.2021.1904146
How do university students and instructors engage in discussions about race and racism in a country where speaking about race is perceived as racist? In Norway, as in much of Europe, the concept of “race” is silenced, discarded as a wrong-headed remnant of Nazism, despite continued documentation of racial discrimination in labour, housing, education and interpersonal interaction. We used Membership Category Analysis to explore race-related interactions in classroom discourse in three university courses. We find that students and instructors implicitly equate Norwegianness with whiteness, peacefulness, and innocence, and characterize racism with deviance and non-Norwegianness. The national belonging of racialized “Others” in Norway is ambiguous: accepted, but not unproblematically. The category race is elided with the concepts of culture, ethnicity and biology. We propose discursive meta-awareness as an educational approach to countering race evasiveness (often described as “colourblindness”).