Approaching Race and Ethnicity in Nordic Film Culture

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Journal of Scandinavian Cinema

CFP: Approaching Race and Ethnicity in Nordic Film Culture

In 2017, the head of the Swedish Film Institute (SFI), Anna Serner, highlighted the distinct lack of ethnic diversity in Swedish film culture and signalled ambitions to ‘broaden representation, both behind and in front of the cameras’ (2017: 4). Echoing these sentiments, the Danish Film Institute (DFI) and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture (NFI) have outlined targets for ‘increasing cultural diversity and reaching new audiences’ (NFI 2018). These statements reflect the Nordic film industries’ aspiration to address the significant underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic voices in the creative sectors across the Nordic region.

However, themes of race and ethnicity have long-established patterns of representation on Nordic screens (see Wright, 1998, Gustafsson, 2014 and Sundholm, 2018). With no established industry voice or body overseeing representational diversity, as the above studies attest, cinematic depictions of diversity matter precisely because they largely offer the only insight into the way these themes are understood and construed. Overwhelmingly, white filmmakers produce these examples and, as a result, many offer self-critical introspective forms of whiteness. While most are well meaning, often they reflect a liberal perspective that is symptomatic of institutionalised notions of inequality within Nordic media cultures. First and second-generation filmmakers like Hella Joof, Josef Fares, Omar Shargawi and Ali Abbasi have made headway into challenging these ideas by producing films that highlight more complex and diverse perspectives on Nordic societies, but they have received little scholarly attention.

This special issue of the Journal of Scandinavian Cinema focuses on race and ethnicity in Nordic film cultures from two overarching perspectives: 1) representation and how the politics of diversity and hegemony play out in Nordic media texts, and 2) production context, addressing equality and concerns of access in the media industries of these countries. We particularly welcome discussions on practitioner agency, creative labour and articles that draw from wider theoretical approaches like critical race theory.

The issue encourages submissions on the following themes, but we also welcome work outside or combining these areas:

  • Fiction or documentary films actively engaging with themes or topics on race and ethnicity  
  • Critical race theory and its applications in a Nordic context
  • Postcolonial/neocolonial narratives
  • Decolonising/de-centring the canon
  • Perspectives or reflections on the industry/policies relating to diversity
  • Festivals and educational initiatives
  • Audiences/reception, access and exclusion
  • Sámi and other indigenous filmmakers
  • Themes of migration, asylum and integration
  • Multicultural subjects/communities and intergenerational connections
  • Colour-blind/colour-conscious approaches
  • The role of whiteness in films addressing race
  • Stereotyping and discrimination
  • Investigations of the socio-historic impact of under/misrepresentation
  • POC pioneers in Nordic film histories
  • Diasporic themes
  • Mixed-race and interracial themes and representation
  • Afrofuturism, embodied borderlands and intersectional counterspaces
  • Hollywood appropriations of Nordic narratives/international casting

Projected timeline: Proposals due: 15 January 2021. Full article submission due: 1 May 2021. All contributions will undergo double blind peer review with publication planned for January 2022. Both Feature articles (6000 words) and Short subjects (2-3000 words) are welcome.


Please email the guest editors Kate Moffat and Zélie Asava to discuss potential contributions.