Colloquium: Hip-Hop youth and the (re)negotion of language and identity in Norway

May 17, 3:30-5pm, Cobb 201
Unn Røyneland, University of Oslo and University of Chicago

Increasing resentment towards multiculturalism, fueled by sentiments of fear and anger, has intensified the struggle for belonging and identity among the mixed and diverse populations of Europe. This paper considers Hip Hop performances by Oslo youth of immigrant backgrounds in the context of this struggle.

Recent work on language and identity among urban youth in Norway suggests that Hip Hop plays a decisive role in the creation and formation of heteroglossic urban speech styles (Brunstad, Røyneland & Opsahl 2010; Knudsen 2010). A similar phenomenon has been documented among Eastern European immigrants and Latino youth in New York City (Cutler 2008; Slomanson & Newman 2004).

Drawing on these studies I argue that immigrants as well as native-born youth are drawn to Hip Hop’s oppositional symbolism and use language in ways that challenge hegemonic language ideologies. I show that such heteroglossic language practices function as a means for hip-hop-affiliated youth to differentiate themselves from others, to signal social and discursive stances, and as a way to resist and transform traditional social and ethnic categories.