Author: Kathrine Jebsen Moore

Meet Critical Theorists’ Latest Target: Critical Theorists

Ole Wæver, a professor of International Relations at the University of Copenhagen, would seem like an unlikely subject of academic controversy. He’s written extensively on Conflict Studies, and served as a member of the Danish Government’s Commission on Security and Disarmament Affairs, as well as the Danish Institute of International Affairs. He also is widely recognized as the co-founder of a discipline known as Securitization Theory, along with British international-relations professor Barry Buzan. “Securitisation theory shows us that national security policy is not a natural given, but carefully designated by politicians and decision-makers,” reads one introductory online text. “According to securitisation theory, political issues are constituted as extreme security issues to be dealt with urgently when they have been labelled as ‘dangerous,’ ‘menacing,’ ‘threatening,’ ‘alarming’, and so on by a ‘securitising actor’ who has the social and institutional power to move the issue ‘beyond politics.’ So, security issues are not simply ‘out there,’ but rather must be articulated as problems by securitising actors. Calling immigration a ‘threat to national security,’ for instance, shifts immigration from …

Fearful Norwegians Wonder: Are ‘Swedish Conditions’ Coming to the Streets of Oslo?

Oslo is an unremarkable place compared to other European capitals, lacking the picturesque charm of smaller Norwegian cities such as Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. But it’s pleasant and pretty enough. Tourists find it easy to get around, with lots to explore. The Oslo Opera House, which opened in 2008, is spectacular. And in summer, you can swim in the Oslofjord and enjoy expensive utepils (“outside beer”) on the seafront or on Karl Johans gate, the city’s broad main street. Like the rest of Norway, Oslo traditionally has been a safe place, even by the standards of other wealthy countries. It’s also remained more demographically homogenous than most of its neighbours, being geographically isolated from migration patterns that have affected the rest of Europe. Over the last month, however, Oslo’s city centre has witnessed an eruption of unprovoked attacks on random victims—most of them ethnic Norwegian men—by what police have described as youth gangs, each consisting of five to 10 young immigrants. The attacks typically take place on weekends. On Saturday, October 19, as many as …

Knitting’s Infinity War, Part III: Showdown at Yarningham

This is my third report for Quillette on the shockingly vicious social-media wars that have erupted in the world of knitting. My first, written in February, described how knitters’ blogs and Instagram accounts have become weaponized over the issue of racial representation after a knitting designer gushed publicly about her forthcoming trip to India. I concluded with the hope that “the world of knitting can return to a focus on designs, colors, and the value of something that’s unique and handmade, rather than the nationality or race of whoever made it.” This proved to be extremely naïve. In my second article on the subject, published last month, I described how this subcultural farce had descended into a full-blown tragicomedic soap opera, with knitters seeking to destroy one another’s livelihoods because of arguments about whether certain yarn colors might be racist, or whether yarn-related publications profile enough black women. I was surprised that such an esoteric subject would stir up so much reader interest. (My editors tell me that both articles went viral.) And I honestly …

Instagram’s Diversity Wars Revisited

In February, I wrote an essay for Quillette about the Durkheimian witch-hunting taking place on the picture-sharing platform Instagram, and how it was affecting the thousands of knitters, designers, and businesses who rely on social media for their custom. My article described how a blogger and online craft store owner was denounced for writing an innocuous blog about her forthcoming trip to India, and how the yarn dyer Maria Tusken was then harassed and accused of complicity in racism for objecting to the mobbing. Businesses were chastised for their failure to be “truly inclusive” or for apologising too late when they had put a foot wrong. Since my article appeared, things have only got worse. Kate Davies became the next target for abuse. A well-known designer, yarn vendor, and owner of her own brand of knitwear, she set up Kate Davies Designs after suffering a stroke at the age of 36, which ended her career as a literary academic. Davies is based in the Scottish Highlands, where she employs a small team of people and …

When Children Protest, Adults Should Tell them the Truth

Last Friday, children in over 120 countries skipped school to follow the example of a Swedish 16-year-old who has become an international icon of climate change activism. Greta Thunberg’s extensive media coverage has made her a familiar figure—large almond-shaped eyes, brown plaited hair, serious expression, and diminutive stature. This month she was named Swedish Woman of the Year and also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three socialist Norwegian MPs. She has spoken to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and she has delivered a talk to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Her achievements are extraordinarily impressive for a young girl suffering, by her own account, from several mental health issues. Thunberg is inspiring thousands of schoolchildren to join her skolstrejk för klimatet, or “school strike for the climate.” She has dedicated every Friday to this cause since August 2018, following her first full-time strike. Inspired by the teen activists in Florida who organised the March For Our Lives in response to the shooting at Parkland school, Thunberg’s protests outside …

A Witch-Hunt on Instagram

“Knitting is just so white. Let’s hope it gets better.” I overheard this puzzling remark in my local yarn store in Edinburgh, Scotland, last week. The store is in the affluent area of Marchmont, just outside the city centre. Its Edwardian and Victorian tenement flats, adjacent to huge green spaces, are popular with students and families alike. Two customers were chatting to the store owner: “It’s about time we had the conversation,” one of them offered. Her companion nodded in solemn agreement. Knitting, which helps lower the blood pressure and keep the mind busy, has enjoyed an upsurge in popularity in recent years. The Internet has allowed for the proliferation of new platforms from which to buy yarn and patterns, and has helped connect artisans and hobbyists worldwide. Usually, it’s a calming and creative pastime focussed on aesthetics rather than politics. However, a short browse through the knitting posts on Instagram steered me in the direction of the source of the exchange I had overhead and the “conversation” it had produced. On January 7, Karen …