Support letter for Theatre Studies in Bergen


To the Faculty of Humanities, University of Bergen

C/O: Camilla Brautaset (Dean, Faculty of Humanities), Camilla Margareth Hagen (Rector, University of Bergen)


The Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars is very concerned to learn that the University of Bergen is considering to suspend two out of three positions within the field of Theatre Studies. We understand that in a situation where the circumstances require dire prioritizations, it might seem reasonable to focus on cutting vacant positions (or positions close to retirement), but we find it urgent to point out that what is at stake here is not just two jobs, but the possibility of maintaining and renewing an important strand of Norwegian cultural history and participation in the international research community.

After the closure of Theatre Studies in Oslo in 2012, the University of Bergen has been a key site for the academic study of theatre and performance in Norway, and the University of Bergen should be commended for taking on this national responsibility. It does not seem realistic that the University of Bergen will be able to maintain a full BA programme with a downsizing of this scale, and whereas it is relatively easy to dissolve an academic environment, it takes many years to build the network and knowledge base required to offer education and research at this level. In light of this, it is alarming that the proposal has been made without involvement of the relevant parties and with a very short notice before the decision. A step of this size will do irrevocable damage to the field of theatre studies in Norway.

Academic positions on this level do not only produce books, articles and teach classes, they are key nodal points in the knowledge ecology of the field and associated fields of theatre, as they – through their teaching, publications, communication and participation in different sectors of society and culture – recirculate experience and knowledge and establish connections between practitioners and academics nationally and internationally. Due to its relatively small size, this knowledge infrastructure is fragile in the field of theatre and theatre studies, and the amputation of two positions in Bergen will be a major setback, not only to the academic studies, social impact, cultural heritage and practice of theatre in Norway but also to the international community, in which the University of Bergen has played a vital role. We strongly March 20, 2023 urge you to reconsider this prioritization. The vacancies are not easy down-staffing options, they are the backbone of theatre studies in Norway, and maintaining them could be an opportunity to rethink and revitalize the important key position the University of Bergen has had in the area of theatre studies nationally and internationally.

On behalf of the Association of Nordic Theatre and Performance Studies,

Thomas Rosendal Nielsen (Associate professor, University of Aarhus, Vice-chair of ANTS) with board members Sandra Grehn (Senior lecturer, University of Stockholm), Siemke Böhnisch (Professor, University of Agder), Rūta Mažeikienė (Associate professor, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas), Rebecka Brinch (Head of Studies, University of Stockholm).


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