Moffat, Katie Louise. Crisis Politics in Contemporary Nordic Film Culture: Representing Race and Ethnicity in a Transforming Europe. PhD Dissertation. University of Stirling, Nov. 2018,
Identity politics in the Nordic region, that is, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, is in crisis. While these five small nations have garnered a reputation for their perceived exceptionalism, liberal progressiveness and strong welfare-orientated agendas, over the last thirty years, immigration into the Nordic region has increased significantly, and the political and cultural debates over ethnicity and belonging have become more intensely polarised. However, the film cultures of these five small nations have responded to these developments in complex and multifaceted ways giving rise to a broad calibre of film texts that both challenge and reinforce dominant perceptions of national identity.
This thesis attempts to provide some insight into how wider political and ideological shifts have influenced onscreen representations of ethnicity and race over the last three decades. It does so by exploring a range of genres including comedy, social realism, art-house and documentary cinema using close textual and thematic analysis to unearth a region wrestling with the influences of globalisation. The thesis also situates this analysis in relation to film policies relevant to each respective national Nordic film institute, all of whom play an essential role in dictating the direction of Nordic film and media culture.
Consequently, this research shows that representations of ethnic identity are shaped by ethnocentric perceptions of Nordic whiteness where ‘ethnic Nordic’ characters typically turn the experiences and perspectives of ethnic minorities into their own. However, it also demonstrates how a diversification of production channels, media policy directives and an emerging generation of filmmakers are challenging fixed perceptions of ethnic and racial identities and their relationships with conventional notions of ‘Nordicness.’ These contributions enhance the current scholarship on Nordic film culture by foregrounding the politics of race and ethnicity and further developing the theoretical argument for locating Nordic cinema in the global, transnational context.