Dynamics of Belonging: Exploring Home and Homeland in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region

The 15th Annual International Conference on Baltic and Nordic Studies

Valahia University of Targoviste, May 23-24, 2024

We are excited to invite scholars, researchers, and practitioners to submit their papers for consideration at the upcoming conference, “Dynamics of Belonging: Exploring Home and Homeland in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region.” This conference aims to delve into the nuanced dimensions of cultural identity, sustainability, connectivity, migration, security, education, innovation, and artistic expression within the captivating landscapes of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region.

In reflecting on the notion of home, individuals in both the Scandinavia and Baltic Sea Region engage in a multifaceted introspection. Whether one envisions home as a microregion, encapsulating the unique landscapes and cultural tapestries of Scandinavia or the Baltic Sea Region, or defines it on a national scale, the discourse expands to include the intricate layers of personal and collective identity. This contemplative journey involves both longstanding inhabitants and newcomers, prompting a profound meditation on the concepts of home, homeland, homelessness, or a state of being without a defined nation. The discussion transcends physical boundaries, delving into emotional and psychological realms where individuals grapple with questions of belonging and identity. This collective introspection captures the dynamic nature of the regions, as inhabitants and newcomers alike contribute to a shared narrative that evolves with time. It is within this rich ritual of reflections that the diverse perspectives on home and belonging intersect, fostering a deeper understanding of the intricate ties that bind individuals to their microregions, nations, or evolving senses of self.

In our present dynamic reality, Scandinavia, traditionally known for its welcoming stance towards migrants, finds itself in a period of introspection. The region is facing with the intricate challenge of integrating newcomers while, at times, adopting more cautious and, in some instances, even more radical measures. This contemplation extends to the consideration of erecting metaphorical fences against migratory flows from the Middle East or the Global South. The once-unwavering reputation of Scandinavia as an open and embracing home for migrants is undergoing shifts, prompting a reevaluation of its approach to immigration and fostering a discourse on the delicate balance between inclusion and the safeguarding of regional dynamics. Similarly, the Baltic Sea Region has played a pivotal role in extending a welcoming embrace to Ukrainian refugees seeking refuge from the ongoing Russian War against Ukraine. Simultaneously, the region has implemented barriers in response to migratory pressures from Russia and Belarus, seeking to manage and control the influx of individuals into the Baltic States. This dual approach reflects a complex navigation of humanitarian considerations, regional security concerns, and the broader geopolitical landscape, underscoring the multifaceted challenges faced by the Baltic Sea Region in the midst of ongoing conflicts and migration dynamics.

The discourse surrounding the categorization of individuals into groups deemed “good” or “bad” is not a recent concern in Scandinavia, as underscored by the insights presented in the book edited by Gunnar Broberg and Nils Roll-Hansen (Broberg, Gunnar, and Nils Roll-Hansen. Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Michigan State University Press, 2005.). A century ago, the concept of eugenics was not foreign to the Scandinavian region, much like its presence in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other democratic nations. The historical connection to such ideas raises contemplations on the selective acceptance or rejection of individuals within a country. Examining these historical facets prompts a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding notions of acceptability and inclusion, shedding light on the historical intersections that shape contemporary discussions on immigration, belonging, and societal values.

The Northern realms, encapsulated by Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Regions, unfold as a complex perspective of both unity and division, as eloquently expressed in the verses of H.C. Andersen. In his poem, “Jeg er en Skandinav!” (“I am a Scandinavian!”), a poignant unity is portrayed:

"We are one people, we are called Scandinavians, In three realms our homeland is divided; But between the great heavenly gifts It lies: our heart grows into one Let it be forgotten, if wrong was done unto us; The spirit of time, like a cleansed Margarethe, Unites us, it gives thrice the power, Even the language unites us On mountains, in woods and by the night-blue sea, I shout with joy: I am a Scandinavian!"

These verses echo the sentiment of a shared identity, transcending geographical divisions. Yet, the historical echoes remind us of times of division, such as during the partition from the Kalmar Union. In the words of Bishop Magnus in his “Letter to Bishop Lage Urne of Roskilde” in July 1523, the notion of Norway as a “kingdom free to elect a king” stands as evidence of historical distinctions:

“Norway is and has been…a kingdom free to elect a king as well as Denmark and Sweden, which His Grace most likely knows.” (K. Steffensen (2007). “Scandinavia After the Fall of the Kalmar Union: A Study in Scandinavian Relations, 1523-1536.” Brigham Young University – Provo.)

This duality encapsulates the essence of the Northern narrative — a region intricately bound by shared roots, language, and cultural ties, yet marked by historical moments of divergence. It invites contemplation on the fluidity of unity and division, shaping the nuanced identity of the Baltic Sea Regions and Scandinavia.

Be it a literary topic or a problem that writers themselves had to face, the question of belonging to a certain nation, place or even movement had an impact on the works and lives of many authors. Writers feeling isolated in exile, even a self-imposed one, characters feeling isolated in their own families or countries, all of them had an identity problem regarding their home or homeland. In the poem entitled My Fatherland (1894), Ibsen wrote: “Where minds take fire from my poem’s brand/, there runs the frontier of my fatherland” (translation by John Northam). Therefore, the literary borders are a topic in search of clarifications, in close connection to the historical and cultural background, the political dimension, the social or economic development in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region in different periods of time.

Access to education stands as a crucial facet of the concept of home and homeland, especially for those transitioning to a new homeland. The provision of education to newcomers holds profound significance for their long-term integration into the host society, enriching the cultural amalgamation between their origins and the new environment. The manner in which teaching is delivered, and the delicate balance struck between the heritage culture and the host culture play pivotal roles in shaping the development of children. This equilibrium not only influences their capacity to adapt but also contributes to the gradual integration of the new society with its unique set of values. The educational process thus becomes a transformative bridge, fostering a sense of belonging and harmonizing the diverse cultural elements that shape the identity of the next generation.

Themes for Submission

  • Navigating Diversity and Identity in the Baltic and Nordic Regions.
    • Delving into the intricate layers of cultural diversity, this theme explores the dynamic interplay of traditions, languages, and identities within the Baltic and Nordic countries. It seeks to navigate the varied landscapes that contribute to the rich mosaic of the North.
  • Migration Stories: Journeys, Identities, and Diasporas in Northern Europe.
    • Through the lens of migration, this theme unravels the stories of journeys, identities, and diasporas that have shaped the Northern European landscape. It reflects on the diverse experiences of those who have traversed geographical and cultural boundaries from the seafaring Vikings to the Present.
  • Voices Unveiled: Unraveling Linguistic Diversity and Unity in Northern Europe.
    • Focusing on the power of language, this theme uncovers the linguistic landscapes of the Baltic and Nordic countries. It explores how languages contribute to both diversity and unity, revealing the voices that echo across the Northern European expanse.
  • Art and Literature: Shaping Narratives of Home and Homeland.
    • Through the lens of art and literature, this theme explores the ways in which artists and writers shape the cultural narrative of home and homeland. It dives into the creative expressions that capture the essence of belonging in the Baltic and Nordic Regions.
  • Historical Perspectives on Home and Homeland in Scandinavia and Baltic Sea Region.
    • Tracing the echoes of time, this theme delves into historical perspectives that have shaped the concept of home and homeland in the Baltic and Nordic Regions from tbe earliest sources to the beginning of the 21st Century. It also reflects on how the past continues to influence contemporary identities.
  • Bridging Borders: Security and Cooperation Across the Baltic and Nordic Seas.
    • This theme delves into the intricate landscape of regional dynamics and security dilemmas, aiming to unravel the complexities of security challenges. It goes beyond a mere examination of opportunities and threats, shedding light on cooperative initiatives designed to build bridges and foster collaboration across the Baltic and Nordic Seas. Additionally, it explores strategies to fortify security in the face of emerging geopolitical uncertainties, akin to reinforcing one’s defenses when ominous war clouds appear on the horizon..
  • Knowledge Exchange: Education and Cultural Dialogues in Northern Europe.
    • Investigating educational programs, this theme highlights the role of knowledge exchange in fostering cross-cultural understanding. It emphasizes the importance of education in building a shared sense of identity.
  • Innovative Horizons: Entrepreneurship and Progress in Baltic and Nordic Economies.
    • Showcasing innovation and progress, this theme features groundbreaking projects and entrepreneurial ventures contributing to regional development and economic advancement.
  • Sustainable Futures: Heritage and Environmental Conservation and Development in the North.
    • Centered on sustainability, this theme explores the harmonious relationship between heritage, environmental conservation, and development in the Baltic and Nordic Regions.
  • The Russian Invasion and Ukrainian New Refugees in the North.
    • In the face of geopolitical challenges, this theme addresses the Russian invasion and its impact on Ukrainian refugees in the Northern regions, providing a platform for critical discussions on current events and their implications.
  • Other (full panel proposal).

These thematic elements weave together to create a comprehensive narrative that celebrates the diverse, dynamic, and interconnected stories of the North. Drawing inspiration from various sources such as the skaldic poetry, Ibsen’s reflections on home, and the contemporary challenges faced by the region, the “Dynamics of Northern Narratives” conference promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of the Baltic and Nordic realms.

Conference programme

Conference Information:

Conference Website: https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/conference2024
Submission Platform: Click here or copy the link: https://forms.office.com/e/wsZy3MLr4X

Important Dates:

  • Proposals for Panels and Roundtables (approx. 500 words): March 31, 2024
  • Notification of Acceptance of Panels and Roundtables: March 31, 2024
  • Abstracts for Individual Papers (approx. 300 words): March 31, 2024
  • Abstracts for Posters (approx. 200 words): March 31, 2024
  • Notification of Acceptance of Individual Papers and Posters: No later than April 15, 2024
  • Conference Dates: May 23-24 May 2024
  • Publication of Conference Articles: August and December 2024

Committees

Conference Chair:

Prof. Dr. Hab. Silviu Miloiu, President of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies & Vice-Rector of Valahia University of Târgoviște.

Members of the Organizing Committee

Others to be announced shortly.

Secretary of the Organizing Commitee

Ioan Vălu, Valahia University of Târgoviște

Chair of the Scientific Commitee: Researcher Dr. Bogdan-Alexandru Schipor, A.D. Xenopol Institute of History of the Romanian Academy, Iasi, & Vice-President of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies

Vice-Chairs of the Scientific Committee

Lect. Dr. Crina Leon, Al.I. Cuza University of Iasi & Chair of Scandinavian Studies of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Adrian Vițalaru, Al.I. Cuza University of Iasi & Chair of Baltic Studies of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies

Members of the Scientific Committee

Prof. Dr. Kari Alenius, University of Oulu, Finland.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hab. Costel Coroban, Ovidius University of Constanța & Director of Communication and International Relations of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, Romania.

Prof. Dr. Hab. Sergiu Musteata, Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Octavian Țîcu, Institute of History, Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Others to be announced shortly.

Secretary of the Scientific Commitee

Dr. Andreea Dahlquist, General Secretary of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies.

Past annual conferences on Baltic and Nordic Studies:

Publication
Proceedings will be published in The Romanian Journal for Baltic and Nordic Studies, vol. 16 (2024), by uploading them in the platform https://balticnordic.ro/index.php/rjbns.

The Romanian Journal for Baltic and Nordic Studies (RJBNS) was founded in 2009 as the official publication of the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies (ARSBN). The journal is a biannual peer-reviewed multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary area studies journal that strives to disseminate information concerning the history, culture, languages, societies, economics, international relations, geography, science of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea area. It seeks high-quality original papers and reviews of broad scholarly interest that increase understanding of the Scandinavian countries the Baltic Sea region.

Each issue also serves as a useful bibliographic reference. Some issues have focused on specific topics such as viking studies, dissent and conformism in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region, multiculturalism, and multilingualism, but the majority have contained contributions that represent the journal’s overall aims. Some contributions are the result of Baltic and Nordic Studies conferences held with the goal of investigating the situation in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region, as well as the relationships, encounters, intersections, confluences, mutual influences, and/or parallels with other areas.

Because the journal values ethical behavior, all materials authorized for publication are subjected to an external double-blind peer review procedure.

Archiving

Sciendo archives the contents of this journal in Portico – digital long-term preservation service of scholarly books, journals and collections.

Plagiarism Policy

The editorial board is participating in a growing community of Similarity Check System’s users in order to ensure that the content published is original and trustworthy. Similarity Check is a medium that allows for comprehensive manuscripts screening, aimed to eliminate plagiarism and provide a high standard and quality peer-review process.

Submission Guidelines
Articles should be submitted as email attachments in Microsoft Word format according to the submission standards outlined at https://balticnordic.ro/index.php/rjbns/about/submissions

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