About the research project

About the research project

About the project

The project July 22 and the Negotiation of Memory studies the cultural afterlife of the terror attacks on July 22 2011 in the Norwegian society. The project focuses on the ways the tragedy is being represented and interpreted through temporary and permanent markers in public space.

The project gives special attention to the transition from the early phase, when the tragedy was processed through spontaneously created temporary memorials and unofficial markers, to the later creation of permanent and official monuments, memorials and sites commemorating the terror attacks. The relation between these two "stages of memory" is central to the project.

The project is owned by the Cultural Heritage Programme at the Department of Historical Studies, NTNU, and is financed by NTNU and the Falstad Centre

sub projects

Memory, learning and storytelling on Utøya

In his sub project, Tor Einar Fagerland is documenting and analyzing the memorial process on the island Utøya. The process runs from July 22, 2011 and until Summer 2016 with the reopening and the planned inauguration of a center for memory and learning built around preserved parts of the café building.The efforts to find ways of balancing the need to commemorate the events of July 22 and the need to give room for new life on the island is a main concern. The sub project is based on unique documentation from the inside of the process, through the project group's involvement as advisors/ resource group for the Labour Youth.

PhD projects

Five months after the terror attacks the Norwegian government announced that two national memorials will be established, one in Oslo and one on the mainland facing Utøya. The ongoing memorial process is studied in two PhD projects. Line Gjermshusengen examines which narratives are included and which are excluded as the memory of July 22 is given physical form in public space, and as existing places are transformed into memorial sites. Ingeborg Hjorth investigates the management of the memorial process: How are the national memorials created through the commissioner’s discussions and negotiations with artists/architects, the victims’ families and the audience, and through the present’s negotiation with a traditional genre of art, which, in Norway, is closely tied to the memorialization of WWII.

Master thesises

  • Spontaneous memorials were created all over Norway in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks. These memorials and their transformation into archive material are themes discussed in Line Henriksens (now Gjermshusengen) Master thesis, completed in 2013. 
  • Utøya has been the heart of the Labor Youth League since 1950. Thousands of youths have used the island each year to meet new friends and to learn politics. The contrast between the memories of this long and meaningful history on the one side, and the horror of 22 July 2011 on the other is the theme of Anne Lene Andersens Master thesis, completed in 2014.
  • 52 memorial stones, made by the sculptor Nico Widerberg and commissioned by an anonymous donor, have been erected in municipalities that lost one or more of their citizens in the terror attacks. Marianne Magnussen studies the acceptance, the placing, the debates and the unveiling of these memorials in her Mater thesis, to be completed in 2015.
  • The city of Trondheim is one of four municipalities who decided to reject the premade Widerberg memorial. A local memorial process was initiated, and a site of remembrance will be established in the city centre in 2015/16. This local process is studied by Åse Fredrikson in a Master thesis, to be completed in 2015. 

Bilde utstilling rådhuset

Exhibition of porposed designs for national memorials after July 22 2011. Oslo, Feb 2014.