Configurations of Islam in Contemporary Art in Norway

A Comparison of Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced and Karpe’s Heisann Montebello

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Ragnhild Johnsrud Zorgati University of Oslo Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages Norway Oslo

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In this article, I explore how Islam is configured in two creative universes that have recently affected the cultural and political scene in Norway. I compare the enactment in Oslo (2019) of Disgraced by the American playwright Ayad Akhtar to parts of the artistic project Heisann Montebello (2015–2017) by the Norwegian rap duo Karpe. In both fictional universes, references to Islam, Muslims, xenophobia, racism, terror, and politics of integration are paramount. It is therefore significant that major cultural institutions in Norway such as The National Theater, the music hall Oslo Spektrum, the National Library, and the Norwegian Broadcasting Network (NRK) stage these works. Overall, my main argument is that both productions speak to wider audiences in a multireligious and multiethnic setting, demonstrating that Muslims and different configurations of Islam have become an integrated part of Norwegian cultural life.

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