Identity without Nation

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– a cultural exchange between (minorities) in Brazil, Sweden and the UK.

Human kind has always been migrating. Some men and women have sought to realise their dreams in a new context while others have fled from war, persecution and oppression – still others have simply been driven by an incurable restlessness or curiosity. In the 20th and 21st century the migration of people(s) have accelerated through technical innovation and change in wealth distribution. With these shifts the idea of the national state has also taken centre stage and changed our idea of identity fundamentally. The project looks at how alternative ideas about nation and identity can be drawn from minority groups in Sweden, Brazil and the UK along with how migration and movement has informed their history and lives.


The project takes its starting point in Brazilian perspectivism in order to look at cultures in diaspora. It thereby reverses the default route of European culture being the starting point and borrows ideas from indigenous culture and anthropology to expand ideas about identity and belonging. The project’s cross-cultural approach allows us to better understand how human kind’s ceaseless journeys, exchanges, cross-breedings can inspire new solutions, new languages and new translations.

The research questions of the project are:

- What can be learned from historical and contemporary examples are there of non-national cultures that exist and have existed within the realm of the nation-state? What can be learned from these? How do they morph over time and how do they change if/when they move from one part of the world to the other?

- The indigenous peoples of Brazil often actively work against the creation of a state. What can be learned from these strategies in a contemporary context?

- Brazilian philosopher-anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro suggests “equivocation” as the mode of understanding how cultures interact or how cultures communicate. Equivocation is a form of language slippage that borders on puns, jokes and trickery. Can equivocation offer a strategy for marginalized and/or alternative cultures to negotiate their existence and self-empowerment within the nation state?

The project pays special attention to clashes of strains of common sense; misunderstanding as an excess of interpretation and how humour can aid intercultural exchanges.

The research will be carried out in three phases:

1. A Preparatory Phase.
The event will start with the public presentation of the research topics in three locations simultaneously: Stockholm, Sao Paulo and London. This occasion will form a poly-vocal presentation of the research topics where the researchers in each city will present their outlooks on the research questions.

After these interconnected press conferences research will be carried out in Brazil, the UK and Sweden. It will contain curatorial work, research in archives and creation of new artwork and performances (along with hybrid forms in-between.) These will be carried out during various residencies in both continents.

2. A Performative Phase.
The second phase will start with a two-day event in Sao Paulo. It will focus on events at Casa do Povo and MAM. It will include artistic performances, lectures, hybrid versions of the two along with film-screenings and discussions.

3. An Exhibition Phase.
The third phase of exhibition will be presented at museums in Sweden, the UK and/or South America. These will document the outcomes of the previous stages of the research and will be accompanied by the publication of a catalogue.

The project draws from a series of Vision Forum projects where the participants of the project have collaborated and approached similar problematics:

-    Is Misunderstanding Misunderstood, 3rd Ghetto Biennial, 2013, which was a Swedish-Danish collaboration bringing the voice of the ghetto into the world through interviews and musical exchanges.
-    We Are What We Lost, XIII OuUnPo Session in Sao Paulo, 2014. A 10-day Swedish-Brazilian art and science exchange across a dozen venues in Sao Paulo.
-    Ö – A Möbius Trip, Stockholm, 2013. A Swedish-Brazilian exchange that took its inspiration from Homer and organised various artistic trips through the Stockholm archipelago.

The project is organised by the international research platform Vision Forum and is a collaboration between Linköpings universitet in Sweden and the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP).