UCL News


Interculturality, Politics and Society - Lessons from the Nordic Countries

11 March 2008

A public seminar held at UCL (University College London) later this week will explore the concept of interculturality, politics and society in light of the recent experiences of countries in the Nordic region.

Event: Interculturality, Politics and Society: Lessons from the Nordic Countries

Date: Friday 14 March 2008, 2-5 pm,

Location: A V Hill Lecture Theatre, UCL

Speakers at the seminar include UCL academics and public figures from Nordic countries. They will address questions such as: What is interculturality and what do we mean by inter-cultural relations? How important are differences of ethnicity, race, language, religion and culture in the contemporary world? Why do cultural differences sometimes lead to conflicts and how can this be prevented? What is the role of the state and of social policy in trying to promote social cohesion?

Co-organiser of the seminar Dr Mary Hilson, UCL Scandinavian Studies, said: "These are questions and problems which face all contemporary societies, but the aim of this seminar is to explore them in the specific context of four Nordic countries. The Nordic countries have for most of the twentieth century had a widespread international reputation for social cohesion and solidarity, achieved partly through the extensive welfare state. In recent years, however, they have undergone rapid social change, partly as a result of mass immigration.

"The different approaches towards integration policy in the region offer an opportunity to compare the impact of multi-cultural and assimilationist approaches, in the wake of the publicity and debates generated by the 2006 Mohammed cartoons affair."

The seminar will take the form of a 'witness seminar' where experts give testimonies based on their personal experience of practical work in this field, as the basis for general discussion.

The participants are:

  • Alaa Idris, Housing policy secretary with Tenants' Association (Sweden) and member of Social Democratic Youth Federation executive committee, with responsibility for integration and refugee policy
  • Yildiz Akdogan, Member of the Danish Folketing
  • Patsy Nakell, Editor, Ny Tid (Finland)
  • Gerd Fleischer, Selvhjelp for invandrere og flyktninger (voluntary organisation promoting self-help for immigrants and refugees) (Norway)
  • Claire Dwyer, UCL Geography
  • Ger Duijzings, Department of East European Languages and Cultures, UCL SSEES
  • Yvonne Mørck, Roskilde University
  • Jonathan Wolff, UCL Philosophy (Chair)
  • Mary Hilson, UCL Scandinavian Studies; Titus Hjelm, UCL SSEES; Claire Thomson, UCL Scandinavian Studies (organisers)


Notes for Editors

1. Journalists who wish to attend the seminar, or interview the speakers involved, should contact Ruth Metcalfe in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9739, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, email: r.metcalfe@ucl.ac.uk, out of hours: +44 (0)7917 271 364

2. The seminar will be held on Friday 14 March 2008, 2-5 pm, in the A V Hill Lecture Theatre, UCL. A map indicating the location of the lecture theatre is available here: http://tinyurl.com/2b2zqs

3. Programme

14.00-14.15 Introduction

14.15-14.45 Presentations by Alaa Idris and Yildiz Akdogan

14.45-15.15 Questions and comments from the academic panel; general discussion

15.15-15.30 Tea

15.30-16.00 Presentations by Gerd Fleischer and Patsy Nakell

16.00-16.30 Questions and comments from the academic panel; general discussion

16.30-17.15 General discussion; concluding remarks from 'witnesses'

4. The seminar is organised with the support of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and UCL HR Equality Action Planning.