Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have in common their history as Danish dependencies with ... Read more
Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have in common their history as Danish dependencies within a historically and geographically coherent region. The complex aftermaths of Denmark’s sovereignty over its North Atlantic territories and their ongoing nation building processes lie at the core of this book. Today, we are witnessing region building processes beyond bilateral links to Denmark. How do the countries position themselves, individually and collectively, vis-à-vis the European metropolitan centres, a larger transcontinental North Atlantic region, the 'hot' Arctic, and global histories of colonialism and decolonisation? By examining the region from cultural, literary, historical, political, anthropological and linguistic perspectives, the articles in this book shed light on Nordic colonialism and its understanding as 'exceptional', and challenge and modify established notions of postcolonialism. Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are shown to be both the (former) subjects as well as the producers of cultural hierarchisations in an entangled world.
The chapter deals with self-conceptions of exceptionalism in the United States and in Northern Eu ... Read more
The chapter deals with self-conceptions of exceptionalism in the United States and in Northern Europe. The notion that one nation, one region or one group is exceptional, conflicts with globalization theory. Because of migrating people, goods and ideas, the world is understood to become more homogeneous (Appadurai 2008; Comaroff & Comaroff 2012). However, globalization incorporates a globalization of risks, conflict (Beck 2007) and uncertainty (Bauman 2000), too. As contemporary Western societies are increasingly characterized by crisis and insecurity, there appears to emerge a need to highlight the unique features of the "Self". Phrases like »American Exceptionalism« and »Nordic Exceptionalism« have become common in political discourses from the 2000s, and are at once subject to a critical negotiation within popular culture, literature and film. In the following discussion, I will show how the American and the Scandinavian self-conceptions of exceptionalism iare interdependent. The analysis starts in America with an examination of a satirical television show by American stand-up comedian, Wyatt Cenac. Together with Jonathan Franzen’s novel "Freedom", it serves as an example of artistic approaches to a discursive strategy, which uses images of Scandinavia as a category of distinction in order to consolidate the libertarian idea of »American Exceptionalism«. The second part of the chapter concerns Scandinavian visual arts’ current reevaluation of the narratives, which form the basis for notions of »Nordic Exceptionalism«. Here, I will demonstrate how Susanne Bier’s feature films "Efter Brylluppet" (»After the Wedding«) and "Hævnen" (»In a Better World«) contribute to the critical negotiation of a Nordic self-conception, characterized by altruism and ethical and moral superiority.