Historic look at freedom of expression

March 23 2017

Update: podcast available here.

We live in a time of unrest, when many are finding that freedom of expression can no longer be taken for granted. What can history teach us about present-day dilemmas? What historic backdrop would be most appropriate for present-day debates?

How have the various dilemmas involving freedom of expression been resolved in Norway and Denmark? What differences and similarities can be found between the two countries, and what can we learn from each other?

Fritt Ord invites the public to a debate on Thursday, 23 March, from 7.00-8.30 p.m. in Uranienborgveien 2, featuring lectures by Jacob Mchangama and Kjetil Jakobsen. Both have recently published books about the history of freedom of expression.

Jacob Mchangama has written the book But. The history of freedom of expression in Denmark, along with Frederik Stjernfelt (2016). The former is executive director of the think tank Justitia in Copenhagen, as well as a lawyer, writer and debater. Mchangama argues that Norway has moved in a liberal direction in recent decades, while Denmark has followed a restrictive path that borders on a militant democracy. How can it be that liberal Denmark has changed its course?

Kjetil Jakobsen has written the book After Charlie Hebdo. The freedom of expression crisis in the light of history (2016). He is a professor of History at Nord University in Bodø and a columnist in the newspaper Morgenbladet. ​Jakobsen points out that the history of the Nordic countries is not as liberal as we like to think, but he finds important philosophical and historical highlights in the struggle for freedom of expression.

The event is being chaired by Åshild Eidem, journalist, writer and director of Norwegian PEN. Her latest book is Father’s legacy (2015), written in collaboration with Laila Bokhari.

The meeting is free of charge and open to the public. It wil be held in Norwegian/Danish. Feel free to check the Facebook event for more information.