The Taste of "the Stranger." Performing Heritage in Culture and Language Festival in Norway.

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 13:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Karolina NIKIELSKA-SEKULA, Koc University, Migration Research Center, Turkey, University of Southeast Norway, Department of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Norway
Cultural heritage can be understood twofold – as a set of cultural norms and values or as an artistic patrimony of a group. Passed on from generation to generation and constantly being negotiated, cultural heritage is usually inscribed in the ethnic identity of immigrants and becomes an important marker of group boundaries in multicultural societies in Europe. Being a source of pride and a reference to culture of origin, cultural heritage is both a chance and a limitation of integration that often causes tension between the host and immigrant population. It enables development of a sense of belonging to both – the group of origin and host society by negotiating norms and creating narrations that allows linking new practices to one`s background. Simultaneously it may be seen as a factor that negatively distinguishes immigrants and threatens the host society`s values.

This paper discusses how heritage is being used and negotiated by the participants of Language and Culture Festival in Drammen, Norway, allowing them to cross group boundaries. It exemplifies the role of art in providing new space for mutual relationship between the locals of different ethnic backgrounds including the major society. The paper is based on an ethnographic observation accompanied by photo documentation conducted by the author in Drammen in 2013-2014 . Special focus is put on two groups of Drammenians – ethnic Norwegians and Norwegian Turks.

Since 2009 the Language and Culture Festival has provided a platform of cultural heritage exchange between its participants in Norway. The festival takes the form of a competition in which locals of different ethnic backgrounds, including the representatives of the host society present a song, folk dance, text composition, drawing or stage performance in a different language other than one`s mother tongue.