Cappelen Damm Akademisk
The Israeli invasion of Gaza in late December 2008 triggered demonstrations – or as several commentators termed them, riots – in downtown Oslo, as it did in other European cities. Many young people from the «immigrant dense » suburbs of Oslo participated in these protests. The demonstrations in December 2008 were followed by unusually violent actions on January 8 and 10, 2009. Downtown Oslo turned into a battlefield with vandalized shops and «war-like» clashes between the demonstrators and the police. A central point in the media coverage of this extraordinary situation was that most of the «rioters» were youths with an immigrant background. Commentators speculated that this demonstration offered the youth the possibility to vent their frustrations towards Israel, as well as towards mainstream Norwegian society. Based on ethnographic research in Oslo prior to, during and following these demonstrations, it is argued that several of the rioters in the streets of Oslo were not motivated by a more or less «marginalized» position in the larger Norwegian society, nor were they reacting to territorial stigmatization. Instead, «rioting» was a spur of the moment act. When finished, the «angry rioters» resumed their ordinary or banal everyday life as friends, students, workers, or young men looking for a job. This paper does not attempt to identify any universal deeper-lying causes of urban unrest. When analyzing such extraordinary events, as cases of «urban unrest» often are, it is fruitful to look for the particular as well as the eventual general conditions for such events.
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