How to challenge Us-and-Them thinking? Interview with Thomas Hylland Eriksen
As some of you might know, I work as a journalist at the interdisciplinary research programme Culcom - Cultural Complexity in the New Norway. I’ve just put online the English translation of my interview with Thomas Hylland Eriksen, research director of Culcom.
We talk about how hard it is to challenge conventional academic thinking and to establish a new analytical view of the world.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen says:
- What we are trying to do is shift the analytical gaze in a direction where the nation-state and the ethnic group are not viewed as the most important unit. It is here researchers like Knut Kjeldstadli have been vital in insisting on the significance of class, or Oddbjørn Leirvik, who points out that differences in value-based questions cuts across the majority and minority population.
- In this way, lines of distinction that are somewhat different than those common to immigrant research, in which an us-and-them way-of-thinking is common, get established. And in addition, the transnational perspective leads to a de-centering of the nation-state; it is almost like a small Copernican revolution.
We also talk about open access and dissemination via our website. He says:
- Working in a place where most of what is published is electronically available and can be downloaded as a PDF has been a dream of mine for many years, even in the transnational sense: Then people who are in Switzerland and India can get onto our webpages, download texts and use our research in their own work. There is no reason why this should cost money.
There are two more new interviews online about related issues.
Hans Erik Næss criticizes in his thesis the methodologicial nationalism in sociology text books. Sociology does not focus enough on transnational aspects in society. His thesis contains not only suggestions for a better sociology, but also an alternative required reading list.
Gunn Camilla Stang has written one of the first studies on Polish labour migrants in Norway. She says that debates about migration should focus more on the possiblities of learning. In viewing Polish laborers primarily as (cheap) labor, companies miss out in a great deal of knowledge they could have used to improve routines and products.
And Arnfinn Haagensen Midtbøen explains us why Scandinavia should be illuminated as an interesting region in migration research.
We have relaunched our website, and our English pages are “still under construction”