"Not crying because of the money": creating an Icelandic subject in boom and crisis
(University of Iceland)
Paper short abstract:
My paper focuses on the construction of Icelandic subjectivity during the boom period and the first years after the economic crash in 2008, emphasizing how these periods involve engagement with Iceland’s historical past to create a sense of intimacy.
Paper long abstract:
In the early 2000s, Iceland enjoyed a prosperous boom period, which ended abruptly with a historical economic crash in 2008 when the three main banks became technically bankrupt. My paper focuses on the construction of Icelandic subjectivity during the boom period and the first years of the crisis, emphasizing their involvement with Iceland's past and creation of intimacy. As I show, Iceland's past history as a Danish dependency was particularly revisited during the economic boom in the early 2000s, being instrumental in creating Icelandic subjectivity within an increasingly neoliberal environment. Iceland was a Danish dependency until 1944 and based its claims of independence from Denmark on claims to be recognized as a 'true' nation, directly and implicitly stressing that Iceland belonged to a civilized 'white' Europe. Nationalistic rhetoric in the boom mobilized this social memory, emphasizing Iceland as finally gaining the status it deserved as being on pair with Europe. Simultaneously, the Icelandic subject was seen as distinct from the rest of the world, revolving around ideas of Icelandic exceptionalism. During the economic crash, the notions of Icelanders as a European subject were disrupted and questioned. I will show how they were reinstated through various social discourses concerning Iceland's position as a nation among nations.
Crisis, intimacy, and the European subject