A Multicultural Society in the Making: How Norwegian Muslims challenge a white nation
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This doctoral thesis explores the current process of Norway becoming a multicultural society, more specifically when Norwegian Muslims challenge ‘white’ perceptions of the nation. I apply Tariq Modood’s theory of political multiculturalism to analyze this process in terms of public sphere negotiations between a politically mobilized assertive minority, the majority population and state policy responses. I analyze four empirical cases from the ‘integration debate’ in national newspapers between 2006 and 2010; the cartoon affair, the hijab debates and debates on secularism and the role of ‘native informants’. I theorize these as ‘discursive struggles’ and identify four competing ideological positions; a confrontational and a dialogical liberalism on the majority side, and a dialogic antiracist multiculturalism and forms of communitarianism among the minority. The two dialogue positions correspond to the distinction between state multiculturalism as diversity management and a bottom-up multiculturalism that starts with critical minority perspectives on racism. Both see liberal and Muslim values as open to interpretation and thus compatible, but the antiracist perspective combines dialogue with resistance against dominant anti-Muslim discourses. The thesis combines detailed empirical data from Norwegian public debate, comparisons with similar debates in other European countries, and a comprehensive theoretical discussion of multiculturalism, postcolonial perspectives on anti-Muslim racism, politicized Islam and Muslim feminism, and secularism and the public sphere.