A darker shade of pale: Cultural intimacy in an age of terrorism
Thomas Hylland Eriksen describes with sensitivity in Anthropology Today how a community which had lost two of its brightest stars – Bano Rashid, 18, and Diderik Aamodt Olsen, 19 – in the terrorist attack of 22 July.
The Norwegian reactions to the terrorist attack of 22 July surprised many foreign observers: Flower parades, compassionate speeches by national leaders and calls for more openness and tolerance, rather than resentful cries for revenge and heightened security, predominated. The explanation for this kind of reaction is threefold: First, the terrorist was homegrown and related to dark undercurrents of Norwegian nationalism, thus could not easily be connected to an existing enemy image. Second, Norway was not prepared for a calamity of this order and had no ready scripts to deal with the meaningless massacre. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the small scale of Norwegian society creates bonds of solidarity at a national level which easily can render the entire country, in a situation of crisis, into a metaphoric family, in this case a bereaved family.