The trickster of exiled intellectuals: Arcane opposition to the perceived injustice


  • Christian Franklin  Svensson Aalborg University


intellectuals, dissent, trickster, migration, civil society


Globally, governments are persecuting intellectuals in their home countries. Employing data from ethnographic fieldwork, the present paper has a focus on exiled scholars, artists, and writers hosted in the Nordic countries. Living in exile enables the interlocutors to criticise the regimes’ perceived injustice, and to accuse them of limiting freedom of expression and human rights. In return, the exiled intellectuals are regarded as a threat, and they are personally persecuted in the form of torture, “ideological re-education”, imprisonment, execution or “disappearance”. Embedded in their opposition is a belief that cultural forms can change, and the equivocal nature of the trickster figure symbolises the interlocutors’ defiance of the perceived homogeneity. Applying trickster analytically provides an opportunity for illuminating normative common-senseness, which can reveal potentials for the cultural transformation of static cultures and identities. The interlocutors’ opposition takes shape by using a diversity of creativity and innovative constellations, which shows that power structures can be contested and that social conditions can be shaped by agency. 

Author Biography

Christian Franklin  Svensson, Aalborg University