Interview: Negotiating the border between religion and culture at Christmas time in Scandinavia

Schools and TV programmes are important in shaping children and communities. In the Nordic countries, schools and broadcasters are frequently tasked with presenting cultural heritage to the public – particularly at Christmas time. Is cultural heritage exclusively Lutheran in Denmark and Norway? How do headteachers and broadcasters decide what is simply 'culture', and what is too religious for a broader public? How are new citizens expected to react to cultural heritage in the Nordics?

Associate Professor Elisabeth Tveito Johnsen, Photo

Associate Professor Elisabeth Tveito Johnsen

In this short interview, Elisabeth Tveito Johnsen, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo, discusses different aspects of the term ‘Christian cultural heritage’ with specific reference to how Christmas is negotiated in schools and in public broadcasting in Denmark and Norway, and her own field of research, practical theology. She has been a guest scholar at Arhus University this autumn, conducting research with Associate Professor Kirstine Helboe Johansen as part of their research project "Reimagining the Nordic Model of Christian Cultural Heritage" (NORCHRIST). The research project explores how non-religious spaces become bearers of cultural traditions and religion. Christmas, like religion, is often considered to be something fixed and defined that can be imposed on others. In fact, it is messy, multifaceted, pluralistic and in constant movement, as well as being frequently up for negotiation. The project has received initial funding from the research hub ReNEW (Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World).

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Published Dec. 19, 2019 11:55 AM - Last modified Dec. 19, 2019 6:58 PM