Being Norwegian AND another nationality
I was born in Norway and have lived here for more than 35 of the 41 years I’ve been alive, but I’m still not a Norwegian citizen. You see, Norway is among the dwindling group of countries that still insists that people should only be citizens of one country. Only 5 of 27 EU countries still insists upon this, and one of those five, Denmark, is on its way to changing that.
I fulfil the requirements to be granted Norwegian citizenship, but would have to renounce my Australian citizenship to “become Norwegian”, or more specifically, in order to have a Norwegian passport and the right to vote or be a member of parliament. I already have pretty much all the other rights, although the three hour lines at the police station to renew my residency permit every two years aren’t much fun, I’ll admit that.
The recent debates about Norwegian children being stripped of their Norwegian citizenship when they inherit the citizenship of their non-Norwegian parent (meaning, for instance, that families can no longer move home to Norway together) have reignited all my frustration with the Norwegian lack of acceptance of plurality, of the possibility of having an identity and loyalties that are not single. So I wrote a letter to the paper (of course).
Only two political parties in Norway appear to be working for dual citizenship: SV and Venstre. I was happy to see SV politician Olivia Corso Salles, herself a dual Brazilian/Norwegian citizen, arguing for dual citizenship in Dagsavisen today. You see, there are plenty of Norwegians who also hold another citizenship for various reasons. In fact, 52% of all people who became Norwegian citizens after 2010 also hold the citizenship of another country. So the “rule” that you can’t become a Norwegian without renouncing your other citizenship, and that you lose your Norwegian citizenship when you take the citizenship of another country, really only counts for people from some countries. Unfortunately for me, it counts for Australians. Another useful article I’ve found that explains some of the background for the Norwegian citizenship laws is by peace researchers Tove Heggli Sagmo and Marta Bivand Erdal, who present many good arguments for dual citizenship.
I was born and mostly grew up in Norway. My husband and two youngest children are US citizens. My eldest daughter’s paternal grandmother is Norwegian but her grandfather was born in Germany. My parents are from Australia. My great-great-great-great grandparents moved to Australia from Ireland and England and Austria. Probably there are Norwegian marauders in my ancestry too if you go far enough back, certainly my ancestors lived in countries the vikings attacked. Norwegian descendants in Minnesota still celebrate the 17th of May, Norwegians move en masse to Spain today, there are Norwegian schools and churches all over the world. And there are more and more of us, you know, more and more people with ties to more than one country, whether because our parents moved from somewhere else, or because we married someone from another country or because we moved for work, or as refugees. I want to live in a world that accepts that I am more than simply Norwegian or Australian. I am both, and more.