Diversity in Nordic Children’s & Young Adult Literature

Call for papers

We invite submissions for a special issue of Barnboken for articles engaging with ethnic and cultural diversity as well as in- or exclusion in Nordic children’s and young adult literature. Although scholars of children’s literature have increasingly considered children’s literature’s commitment to societal issues related to race, nation, and ethnic and cultural identity, the Nordic context has been largely ignored. Book-length studies provide a wide range of possible approaches to these topics. Edited volumes, such as Diversity in Youth Literature (Naidoo & Park Dahlen (eds.) 2013) focus on representation, and the circulation of images and stereotypes, whilst Imagining Sameness and Difference in Children’s Literature (O’Sullivan & Immel (eds.) 2017) emphasises the history of such practices. Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children’s Literature (Botelho & Kabokow Rudman 2009) and Was the Cat in the Hat Black? (Nel 2017) foreground readers’ literacy as a vital factor and advance critical reading stances. Racial Innocence (Bernstein 2011) and Racecraft (Fields & Fields 2012) draw upon critical race theory as they challenge the idea that racism is rooted in the perception of difference, as they show how deeply ingrained the practice of racism is in American life.

Similar investigations of racism in Nordic life are lacking and, with only a few exceptions, so too are studies of diversity and power in literature and film from the Nordic region. One notable exception is Mångkulturell barn- och ungdomslitteratur ([Multicultural Children’s and Young-adult Literature] Andersson & Druker (eds.) 2017), which addresses intercultural exchange and representations of the unfamiliar as well as the notions of national identity and Swedishness. Looking Out and Looking In: National Identity in Picturebooks of the New Millenium (Ommundsen (ed.) 2013), too, includes several essays that likewise consider cultural identity in a Scandinavian context. This absence is striking in particular when given the presence of and political and public debates regarding the status of minority groups such as Sami and Tornedalians.

This special issue seeks to fill these lacunae, whilst complementing the existing approaches with new insights from fields such as diversity studies, intersectionality studies, queer phenomenology, or feminist theory, to name but a few. We invite scholars to consider established paradigms either in juxtaposition with or as a complement to methodologies and theories developed in other regions. Papers on historical materials are as welcome as those addressing recently published works.

Possible approaches, concepts, and areas of investigation may include, but are not limited to:

  • Diversity studies
  • Racist practice
  • Indigeneity
  • Positionality
  • In-group and out-group formation
  • Intersectionality theory
  • Critical race theory
  • Imagology
  • Power, predominance, and oppression
  • Silence, silencing, being silent
  • Visuality and visibility
  • Inclusion and exclusion
  • Queer studies
  • Embodiment theory


Deadline, abstracts: 15 October 2019                                             

Please send a 300-word proposal to barnboken@barnboksinstitutet.se. The following information should be included: The title of the article, the name of the writer, affiliation, and e-mail address.

Deadline, articles: 15 January 2020

The articles will be published in 2020. The maximum length for the contributions is 40,000 characters. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published in any other context.

Texts are sent via e-mail to barnboken@barnboksinstitutet.se or via the login system on Barnboken’s website: www.barnboken.net. For further information on submission details, see Author Guidelines: http://barnboken.net/index.php/clr/pages/view/author. A guide to our reference and note system is available at the journal website.

Guest editors of this theme are Sara Van Den Bossche (Assistant Professor, Tilburg University, s.vandenbossche@uvt.nl), and Lydia Kokkola (The University of Oulu, Finland, lydia.kokkola@oulu.fi).

The editorial committee consists of Editor Åsa Warnqvist (Research Manager, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), and Assistant Editors Maria Jönsson (Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden), Anne Skaret (PhD., University of Applied Sciences, Norway), Björn Sundmark (Professor, Malmö University, Sweden), Olle Widhe (Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden), and Mia Österlund (Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland).

Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research is published by the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. All articles accepted have been peer reviewed by at least two peers and will be published online under an Open Access model. The main language of the journal is Swedish, but articles written in Danish, Norwegian and English are also welcome. We are especially interested in contributions related to Sweden or the Nordic countries. Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

For more information, please contact:

Åsa Warnqvist
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books
Odengatan 61
SE-113 22 Stockholm
Phone: + 46 8 54 54 20 65.
E-mail: barnboken@barnboksinstitutet.se