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Norwegian national day oratory: constructing and reconstructing a national we


Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


National day speeches play an explicit part in defining national identities. In this article, we examine how mayors in Norwegian municipalities reflect on Norway's increased diversity in their 17 May speeches. National day speeches in Norway are supposed to focus on unity, not conflict. Yet, what have they become in the context of diversity? In applying theoretical perspectives on nations, rituals and language to data consisting of a selection of speeches, our analysis identifies themes that structure a typical 17 May speech. We explore the use of plural pronouns in the speeches and how they make Norwegian national identity more or less accessible for people with minority backgrounds. By including ethnic minorities in national day rhetoric, the speakers negotiate who belongs in the Norwegian community in a less directly political way than in everyday life. Yet, whilst the genre is celebratory, the national day speeches also echo different political attitudes towards diversity and integration.